Following is the transcript (English portion) of a standup briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, before a TV election special to promote the 2004 Legislative Council election this (September 9) evening:
Reporter: There have been a number of violent incidents in the lead up to the Sunday election. Are you worried that the election on Sunday will be marred by any violence at all? And do you think that Hong Kong voters are mature at this point?
SCA: We have a fine and well-established tradition of maintaining a fair and open electoral system. Hong Kong is also well established as a city which has the foundation of the rule of law. So I believe that with the tradition that we all espouse, and with the law-abiding tradition of Hong Kong community, we should be able to maintain overall order in terms of conducting the Sunday election. Also, the guidelines issued by the Electoral Affairs Commission, the vigilance with which the ICAC and the Hong Kong Police enforce these rules, will collectively ensure that we should be able to maintain the fine tradition of clean and fair elections.
Reporter: What is the purpose of today's event? What kind of message you would like to give to the public about the election?
SCA: The third term Legislative Council election to be held on September 12 will set a few new records. First of all, this is the third term Legislative Council election which will return 30 directly-elected Legislative Councilors. This is the highest since Reunification in 1997. Secondly, we have a total of 159 candidates standing this particular election. This is also an all time high. Thirdly, we have 3.2 million registered voters, almost 70 per cent of all those eligible. This is yet again a new record.
So we believe that voters will be interested, will be keen to participate in this particular election. We wish to make use of tonight's event which will be broadcast on Saturday to remind voters to come out and vote some time between 7.30am and 10.30pm on Sunday.
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind all voters, candidates and their supporters to respect the fair and open electoral system which we have established very well in Hong Kong over the last 20 years. This is important to Hong Kong, and we should maintain this fine tradition.
Reporter: The Human Rights Watch described that it's an unhealthy environment for the Sunday polls. Some academics from different universities also said that there were lots of advertisements about the election, but it seemed that the Government was playing a very low and soft tone during the (publicity) campaign. What do you think?
SCA: We have made our very best efforts to promote public awareness of the forthcoming election. We have maintained this momentum ever since we started the voter registration campaign quite a few months ago. At that time, there were also doubts expressed as to whether the voter registration campaign would be effective. But in fact we have now set a new record of having 3.2 million people registered as voters this time round. So with the efforts of ourselves and also of the parties and candidates standing in this particular election, we are reasonably confident that we will have a good turnout on Sunday.
Reporter: You spoke of three records that will be set in this election. Seeing that the voter registration is at a record high, does it mean that there should be also a record turnout on Sunday? If that does not happen, does that mean the Government has failed in promoting the election turnout?
SCA: I hope that this Sunday election voter turnout rate will at least be on a par with that of the election in 2000 which was something between 43 and 44 per cent. So I hope that all will continue to be vigilant in the next two days or so, and make this election one which is important to Hong Kong and one which returns candidates whom Hong Kong people support.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Thursday, September 9, 2004