|LCQ16: Government efforts in explaining to the public the contents of the Fifth Report and collecting their views
Following is a question by Hon Lee Wing-tat and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (December 7):
Since the publication of the Fifth Report of the Constitutional Development Task Force, the officials concerned have attended press conferences, radio programmes as well as meetings of the Legislative Council and District Councils in recent days to explain the contents of the Report. Regarding the Government’s efforts in explaining to the public the contents of the Report and collecting their views, will the Government inform this Council whether:
(a) an independent opinion poll will be conducted on the recommendations contained in the Report; if so, when it will be conducted; if not, the reasons for that;
(b) residents' meetings will be organized in the 18 administrative districts in the territory for the officials concerned to explain the contents of the Report and collect residents' views; if not, whether they will attend forums or residents' meetings organized by community organizations in various districts to collect residents' views; and
(c) it will conduct an opinion poll and public consultation on the public demand for a timetable on universal suffrage so as to ascertain what timetable will be acceptable to the public, in order that the aspirations of Hong Kong people for a timetable on universal suffrage can be reflected to the Central Government?
On the first part of the question raised by the Hon Lee Wing-tat, prior to the release of its Fifth Report, the Constitutional Development Task Force (the Task Force) commissioned an opinion poll on the package of proposals to ascertain the level of public support for, and acceptance of, the major elements of the package. The results of the poll were published in the Report. After the release of the Fifth Report, the Task Force has been monitoring various polls conducted by different academic and media organizations in respect of the proposed package and issues relating to constitutional development.
On the second part of the question, since its establishment in January 2004, the Task Force has been collecting views from the public and different sectors of the community on the issue of constitutional development. The proposed package is a product of wide and open public consultation conducted in stages in the past year or so. The Task Force believes that the proposed package has struck the right balance amidst the various views in the community. After the release of the Fifth Report, the priority of the Task Force is to strive to gain the support of the public and the Legislative Council for the proposed package.
On October 19 this year, the Task Force released the Fifth Report. In addition, it also distributed pamphlets to the public to introduce the main points of the proposed package. Members of the community may forward their feedback on the proposed package to the Task Force through mails, facsimiles and e-mails. Further, two members of the Task Force (the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs and Ms Elsie Leung) attended meetings of a Legislative Council (LegCo) subcommittee, which was set up to study the Fifth Report, to explain the proposed package to LegCo Members and to listen to their feedback. The Chief Secretary for Administration also visited the 18 District Councils (DCs) to listen to members’ feedback on the proposed package. Through the feedback received from people of different sectors of the community, LegCo and DCs, the Government has a fair understanding of the views of residents in the districts.
On the third part of the question, the HKSAR Government is clearly aware of the community’s aspirations on universal suffrage. At the same time, various opinion polls have indicated that most people support the proposed package, and that they also agree that the electoral arrangements for 2007/08 should be handled separately from the issue of a timetable for universal suffrage. The Chief Executive has already made clear that he will strive to bring Hong Kong towards universal suffrage in accordance with the Basic Law, and hopes that the proposed package for 2007/08 can get passed LegCo as a first step towards universal suffrage. The HKSAR Government hopes that the public will understand that there is no conflict between formulating a road map and timetable for universal suffrage and supporting the proposed package, and that the two can coexist and complement each other.
The Task Force has reflected truly to the Central Authorities the community’s aspirations for universal suffrage. At the forum on Hong Kong’s constitutional development held on December 2 in Shenzhen, participants from different sectors of the community also reflected to the officials of the Central Government the public’s aspirations for universal suffrage. The Deputy Secretary-General of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Mr Qiao Xiaoyang, stated at the forum that he was aware of the strong aspirations for universal suffrage in the community, and that he considered that a reasonable and feasible way to address the issue would be to handle the proposed package separately from the issue of a timetable for universal suffrage. The two issues could be handled in parallel without any conflict.
With regard to the work for a road map for universal suffrage, the Chief Executive has stated clearly that the Commission on Strategic Development will strive to conclude discussions on the principles and concepts relating to universal suffrage by the middle of next year, and on the design of a universal suffrage system for the Chief Executive and the legislature by the early part of 2007.
Ends/Wednesday, December 7, 2005