|Transcript of SCA's briefing after attending Legco meeting (English only)
The following is the transcript of a standup briefing by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after attending the Legislative Council meeting today (November 2) (English only):
Reporter: Is it lawful for legislators or the Hong Kong community to work out a timetable and a roadmap on how to achieve universal suffrage?
SCA: Currently according to the decision and interpretation made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in April 2004, we are focused on dealing with how the electoral methods for returning the Chief Executive (CE) in 2007 and for forming the Legislative Council (Legco) in 2008 may be amended. This is our priority, first and foremost.
Secondly, and in parallel, we do recognise that the community in Hong Kong has expectations about attaining the ultimate aim of universal suffrage. That is why we are establishing a political subgroup under the Commission on Strategic Development to take forward discussions on how collectively we can put together a roadmap for attaining universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
Reporter: Does it mean that it is lawful for this subgroup in the Commission on Strategic Development to work out a timetable and a roadmap to achieve universal suffrage? Is it not unlawful?
SCA: Certainly things which are done by the HKSAR Government will be lawful. But for the time being, we are focused on getting opinions from all sides to deal with the question of forming a roadmap for attaining universal suffrage. We have not yet reached the stage of collecting views and forming a collective opinion on what would constitute a suitable timetable for attaining universal suffrage. We have not reached that stage yet. For the time being, there are still diverse views within the community as to when we should attain universal suffrage. There are those who suggest 2012; there are those who suggest 2017 and beyond; there are those who say we should stick by 2007/08. So views remain diverse.
Reporter: The question is, what is lawful and what is unlawful? Is it like, if we discuss how to achieve universal suffrage after 2007/08, that will be lawful, but if we try to work out the timetable for universal suffrage, then we need to first achieve consensus with Beijing?
SCA: Hong Kong is a free society. Anything can be discussed. But if we wish to promote and roll forward constitutional development beyond 2007/08, then we need to work in accordance with the Basic Law and achieve consensus between Beijing and Hong Kong for things to be taken forward to make new constitutional arrangements. We must, of course, act according to the Basic Law and secure a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council, consent of the Chief Executive and endorsement by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
Reporter: Will you just react to China Daily's commentary yesterday that it is actually unlawful for Hong Kong people to wish to try to work out a timetable on universal suffrage?
SCA: I have given you my views. I have nothing to add.
Ends/Wednesday, November 2, 2005