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CE's remarks on adjustments to package of proposals in Fifth Report

    The following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at a media standup at the Main Wing lobby of Central Government Offices this afternoon (December 19):  

     The Chief Secretary for Administration has just announced the adjustment to our proposed package on constitutional development. So I will not repeat it here.

     In a few days, Legislative Council Members will vote on the package. No one will dispute that this is a defining moment for democratic development in Hong Kong.  

     The package now tabled before the Legislative Council has been the subject of prolonged consultation. It has consolidated different views from various sectors of the community. It enjoys the support of the majority of the people. I am confident that it will be endorsed by the Central Government.  Hong Kong's political system is ready to take a significant step towards universal suffrage. All we need now is the support of legislators to allow us to take this step forward.

     Over the past two months, we have spared no effort to lobby legislators for their support. The adjustments announced this morning aim at addressing the concern of some legislators and Hong Kong people, and to help get our package through LegCo. My Administration has now done all it can, and all it should. Like most Hong Kong people, I sincerely hope that the electoral arrangements for 2007 and 2008 will take us a step closer to universal suffrage, rather than leave us marching on the spot.

     Some legislators have organised marches to express the aspiration of Hong Kong people for universal suffrage. I respect these activities, and so do the people of Hong Kong. But I also believe that Hong Kong people expect more from their legislators. The marches have taken place; the slogans have been chanted. Now the public wants to see solid progress in democratic development. The public expects its elected representatives to help democracy take root and flourish. Various polls also reflect this aspiration.

     I know that some legislators are adamant that a timetable for universal suffrage should be set. I have stated on several occasions the passage of this constitutional reform package in no way conflicts with the desire for a roadmap or timetable beyond 2008.  Various opinion polls have also shown that Hong Kong people (believe) that the constitutional development package can and should be handled separately from the issue of a timetable. Hong Kong people support a timetable. They also support the passage of this constitutional development package. I share that wish. That is why I will be doing my utmost to get the necessary support from legislators this week to pass our proposals; and why I will be working hard during my term in drawing up a roadmap and a timetable for universal suffrage.

     The Basic Law clearly states that our ultimate goal is the election of the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council by universal suffrage. The Central Government and the SAR Government are steadfastly committed to this process. As the Chief Executive, I have a constitutional duty to forge a consensus and, in accordance with the Basic Law, to lead the SAR to the ultimate goal of universal suffrage as soon as possible, so as to address the community's aspiration.

     I have pledged to follow up the discussion on the issue of a roadmap and timetable in the Commission on Strategic Development. I have also pledged to conclude, in early 2007, the Commission's deliberations on the design of the electoral systems when attaining universal suffrage. On the basis of these conclusions, we will explore the drawing up of a timetable for universal suffrage. I will make our conclusions public and reflect these conclusions to the Central Government.  

     Once again, I call on all legislators to be courageous and to heed the community's wishes to vote in favour of the constitutional development package. The people of Hong Kong do not want the electoral arrangements for the Chief Executive in 2007 and for the legislature in 2008 to stop in their tracks.  We should show the world that step by step, Hong Kong people are able to move towards universal suffrage.  The step we are about to take is a significant step towards this very aim.  I urge all Honourable Members to give us an opportunity to advance democratic development in Hong Kong.

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

Ends/Monday, December 19, 2005
Issued at HKT 15:13


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