|SCA speaks after Commission on Strategic Development workshop
Following is a transcript of a media briefing by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after the workshop today (May 10) organised by the Committee on Governance and Political Development of the Commission on Strategic Development on the possible models for electing the Chief Executive and forming the Legislative Council by universal suffrage (English portion):
Reporter: I am just wondering whether there are any points on which you see developing a kind of baseline of support instead of shared views that seem to be forming. If so, what forms those parts might be? That’s my first question.
Secretary for Constitutional Affairs: Firstly, so far as the HKSAR Government is concerned, the question now is not whether to implement universal suffrage according to the Basic Law. The question is how and when. That view is widely shared by different political parties, members of the Commission on Strategic Development, and various political groups and community organisations which have put forth proposals to us for consideration.
Secondly, everybody agrees that we need to seek a consensus among the Hong Kong community. Within the Legislative Council (LegCo) we have to try our very best to secure two-thirds majority support for any formula of implementing universal suffrage for the Chief Executive (CE) and for the LegCo.
Thirdly, pursuant to discussions which we have had since November 2005, it is now generally agreed that in implementing universal suffrage for Hong Kong, we should comply with the internationally accepted standards of equal and universal suffrage. What we now need to focus on are some very specific questions.
Firstly, how do we form this nomination committee? What should be the size of membership? What sort of sectors and organisations should be represented therein?
Secondly, what sort of democratic procedures should we adopt for nominating candidates to stand for universal suffrage election, "one man, one vote"?
Thirdly, how we should transform the current 30 functional constituencies seats in the LegCo to comply with the concept of universal suffrage?
Now, these are the specifics which we will focus on in preparing the questions to be put to the community through our Green Paper consultation exercise. The two standards are clear. We need to get broad community support; for example, 60 per cent support registered by members of the Hong Kong public. Secondly, we need a two-thirds majority support in the LegCo.
Reporter : My question is: are those points that you raised yourself just now – do you see any kind of base lines of support forming? For example, how you are going to square the circle on functional constituencies (FCs) if you accept the provisions in the ICCPR stated in Article 39 of the Basic Law? If that is accepted by everybody, how you deal with the FCs? Do you see any agreement forming there – a constellation of views?
Secretary for Constitutional Affairs: Actually, Article 25 of the ICCPR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is not applicable to Hong Kong because when the international covenant was extended to Hong Kong in 1976, a reservation was made. That reservation continues to this very day.
But in accordance with the Basic Law, Hong Kong will attain the ultimate aim of universal suffrage. In that regard, in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law, the principles of equal and universal suffrage will apply. Now, I see within the LegCo different political parties proposing different timelines for achieving universal suffrage for the Council. There are those who say let’s do this in one go by 2012. There are those who say let’s do this in phases. But I think there is one common element there: everybody wants to achieve universal suffrage; everybody wants to make progress. I think therein lies some common ground. There is wider common ground with regard to the implementation of universal suffrage for returning the CE. There is broad support for the concept of forming a nominating committee in accordance with the Basic Law, and that I think is very useful common ground.
Reporter: … on transforming functional constituencies. Do you use the word "transforming" to be distinct from "eliminating"?
Secretary for Constitutional Affairs: I don’t think you should read too much into one word. What we mean is that in implementing universal suffrage for forming the LegCo, we must comply with the Basic Law. With the form of functional constituency election, as it stands now, we have not yet attained universal suffrage. That’s all I mean.
Reporter: My question is really not so broad. It is quite specific. When you said there is a developing shared view of transforming, does "transforming" include or exclude the possibility of elimination.
Secretary for Constitutional Affairs: I think that question still remains to be further discussed in the context of the Green Paper to be issued and in our future exchanges with the LegCo and different political parties. As far as the HKSAR Government is concerned, in implementing universal suffrage for forming the LegCo, we must comply with the principles of equal and universal suffrage.
Reporter: So transforming the way of voting by … Is that what you mean?
Secretary for Constitutional Affairs: I think I have answered your question.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)
Ends/Thursday, May 10, 2007