Press Releases

Transcript of press conference on constitutional development report

    Following is the transcript (English portion) of the question-and-answer session at a press conference on the report on Hong Kong's Constitutional Development by the Chief Executive to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress today (December 12):

Reporter: It appears, looking at this report, that you have basically just tossed the ball into Beijing's court. You only need to amend 2012 rules if there's a need to change them in 2012 and the trigger is for the NPCSC to determine whether there's a need. Looking at this whole report, it seems you are inviting the NPCSC to give you a timetable focussing on 2017 and after, and effectively requesting them to take 2012 off the calendar. Is that your intention?

Chief Secretary for Administration: Our intention is to honestly reflect what the whole consultation exercise has gathered in terms of views from the public, from the Legislative Council, from District Councils, from various groups and organisations and including many individuals, and we are doing exactly that. We are reflecting the views we gathered during the consultation exercise and it is very apparent that the community would like to get a timetable as soon as possible. I hear numbers all the time. I hear numbers 2012, 2017, 2016, 2020. I mean numbers have been flying around for many months, so we are merely reflecting the views of the public accurately.

Reporter: In the report it says while there have been a diverse range of views in the community and the legislature which hasn't enabled you to come up with a mainstream view at this stage. But you say that setting the timetable for implementing universal suffrage for the Chief Executive and Legco can help actually promote the ultimate resolution of the issues involved. I just want to ask you to clarify that comment. Is it a suggestion to the NPCSC that in coming back to Hong Kong on this matter, they should not just confirm whether or not an amendment should be made, but also come up with a concrete timetable on the matter which would facilitate things back in Hong Kong when the matter reaches that stage. Do you think that 2017 is the latest possible time that the  NPCSC should perhaps suggest the universal suffrage take place?

Chief Secretary for Administration:  When we do these press conferences we have a rule that we answer only one question so that will give everyone a fair chance of asking questions. Which one of yours would you like me to answer? The first one?

     Actually the answer is the same one I gave RTHK a few minutes ago. All we are doing is accurately reflecting the views of the people we gathered during the consultation exercise. In those three months we spoke to a very wide and diverse group of people, whether it's District Councils, Legislative Council, whether it's functional constituencies, organisations, trade, labour unions, etc, etc. One of the views that we have gathered is that people are very keen on setting a timetable. They feel that it is important to set a timetable in order for universal suffrage of both the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive, so that's all we are reflecting. We are accurately reflecting the views we gathered during the consultation exercise.

Reporter: Can you promise the people of Hong Kong that Hong Kong will have double universal suffrage before 2017?

Chief Secretary for Administration: I can promise that we will achieve the aim of universal suffrage as promised to us in the Basic Law. It is written in the Basic Law itself. As far as the timing is concerned, it is something that has yet to be decided. I think the community does not have a consensus on what is the best timing, although half the community believe 2012 is the best timing. Realistically, we do not have enough votes in Legco currently for us to pass 2012 and that's why the Chief Executive said in his report he believes that 2017 attaining universal suffrage for the Chief Executive first, preceding the Legislative Council, has a greater chance of being accepted by the community. I hope people will agree that is a true reflection of the views of the public.

Reporter: This report mentions making changes to the way the Chief Executive is elected but it doesn't say at all what those changes should be. Because you tell us what the government proposal is for what the changes are and, sort of, what meaning would it have for the NPCSC to approve making changes without knowing what changes they're endorsing or rejecting.

Chief Secretary for Administration: According to NPCSC's interpretation on the 6th of April 2004 it says very specifically that the CE must make a report to the NPCSC for them to determine that the electoral methods for forming the Legislative Council and for the Chief Executive in 2012 can be changed. So therefore this is the first step and we have taken that first step to ask for approval. But of course at the same time, since we have conducted a three-month consultation on the constitutional development, it is appropriate for us to submit that report of that consultation to the NPCSC so that they can consider the CE's report in the context of what the community have reflected during those three months of consultation. As far as any specific proposal is concerned, actually in the consultation itself, we laid it out into several main questions - the formulation of the Legislative Council with timing and methods and the election method for the Chief Executive, again with timing and how. So therefore really what we are doing is accurately reflecting the views of the public in making that report. 

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)

Ends/Wednesday, December 12, 2007