LCQ2: Task Force has gathered views from community through various channels
Following is a question by the Hon Yeung Sum and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 10):
Regarding constitutional development, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the ways to sum up the public submissions in response to The Third Report of the Constitutional Development Task Force;
(b) given that the above Report has already specified those areas which may be considered for amendment in respect of the methods for selecting the Chief Executive in 2007 and for forming the Legislative Council in 2008, how the Administration will deal with the constitutional reform proposals made by members of the public which are beyond the specified areas for amendment, for instance, proposals to elect the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council by universal suffrage; and
(c) whether the Administration will consult the public before implementing specific constitutional reform proposals; if so, of the consultation timetable?
The Constitutional Development Task Force (the Task Force) published the Third Report on May 11, 2004, setting out the areas which may be considered for amendments in respect of the methods for selecting the Chief Executive in 2007 and for forming the Legislative Council in 2008. The consultation period for the Third Report lasted five months, ending on October 15, 2004.
With regard to part (a) of the question raised by the Hon Yeung Sum, during the consultation period, the Task Force has gathered views from the community through various channels, including mails, facsimiles, emails and the Constitutional Development Website. Over 480 submissions from individuals and organisations have been received.
In addition, between May and August 2004, the Task Force commissioned the Central Policy Unit and the Home Affairs Department to organise a total of 12 seminars and focus group discussions. During these sessions, the Task Force gathered many valuable opinions from different sectors of the community. The summaries of views of these seminars and focus group discussions have been uploaded onto the Constitutional Development Website for public information.
Regarding the views and proposals put forth by the community, the Task Force will handle them in a highly transparent manner.
With regard to part (b) of the question, in drafting the Fourth Report, we will make reference to the views received and their justifications. These views will form the basis of the Fourth Report. The Report will give an account of the public views and proposals received on the nine areas set out in the Third Report in respect of the selection of the Chief Executive and the formation of the Legislative Council. It will also summarise other views received which are related to constitutional development. In line with established practice, all written submissions, except those which requested confidentiality, will be published in their entirety when the Fourth Report is issued. These will include views which suggest that universal suffrage be implemented in 2007 and 2008. We will publish the Fourth Report before the end of this year to facilitate more in-depth and extensive discussion within the community with a view to arriving at an option which is feasible and acceptable.
With regard to part (c) of the question, the Task Force will continue to promote constitutional development in accordance with the Basic Law and the decision made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) on April 26, 2004. The Task Force considers that the decision of the NPCSC has clarified the scope for possible amendment in respect of the two election methods. Any proposed amendment must be in accordance with the Basic Law and the decision of the NPCSC. Otherwise, they cannot form the basis for further discussion.
After the publication of the Fourth Report, there will be sufficient time for further consultation with different sectors of the community. This will facilitate in-depth discussion on the areas which may be considered for amendment in respect of the two election methods. We will communicate actively with political parties and different sectors of the community in order to narrow differences of opinion and to reach consensus. We hope that round about mid-2005 a consensus will emerge within the community. We will then issue a fifth report setting out a mainstream proposal to facilitate further public discussion, and to solicit support from the Legislative Council and the public.
Ends/Wednesday, November 10, 2004