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LCQ20: Consultation Paper on the District Council Appointment System

     Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (February 29):


     The Chief Executive (CE) undertook in mid-2010 that the Government would submit to the Legislative Council (LegCo) legislative proposals on the abolition of the District Council (DC) appointment system in autumn of the same year.  Subsequently, the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs indicated that the local legislative arrangements regarding the CE and LegCo elections in 2012 should be dealt with first before addressing the issue of appointed DC members.  In mid-September last year, without any consultation, the authorities announced that the number of DC members to be appointed in the fourth term of DCs in 2012 would be reduced by one-third, while the remaining appointed seats would be abolished over one term or two terms, and complete abolition would be no later than 2020.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that in reply to a question raised by a Member of this Council on October 19 last year, the authorities indicated that there were views in the community in support of the abolition of all appointed seats in one go while others believed that appointed seats should be abolished in phases, why the authorities decided that DC appointed seats be abolished in phases in the absence of any public consultation; of the justification for abolishing appointed seats in phases; why the authorities do not opt for the abolition of all appointed seats in one go;

(b) why the authorities opt for reducing the number of DC appointed seats by means of reducing the number of appointed DC members instead of instituting legislative amendments; whether they have assessed if such arrangement will allow the Government of the next term to decide once again to appoint the full slate of the 102 DC members; if they have, of the assessment result; and

(c) whether the authorities will submit legislative proposals in connection with the way forward for the remaining two-thirds of the appointed seats; if they will, of the timetable and specific details; whether the authorities will ultimately abolish the DC appointment system completely by means of legislative amendments, that is, repealing provisions in the District Council Ordinance (Cap. 547) which stipulate that CE may appoint a maximum of 102 persons as DC members?



(1) Over the past few years, there have been discussions in the community regarding how the issue of District Council (DC) appointed seats should be dealt with.  The views expressed are diverse.  Some supported the abolition of appointed seats in one go while others believed that appointed seats should be abolished in phases in recognition of the important contributions made by appointed members to the community work.

     After considering views from different sectors, the Administration announced in September 2011 that the DC Appointment System could be abolished in phases by going through a transitional period. We reduced one-third of the number of appointed members in the fourth term of the DCs which commenced on January 1, 2012, i.e. appointing only 68 members instead of 102.  We also indicated that after the DC election in November 2011, we could embark on further public discussions as to how the DC Appointment System should be dealt with. At the same time, we made it clear that the Government had an open mind on whether the remaining 68 appointed seats should be abolished over one term or two terms.

     Subsequently, we published the Consultation Paper on the DC Appointment System on February 20, 2012 inviting the public to express their views on how to abolish the remaining 68 appointed seats.  In the Consultation Paper, we state that our inclination is to abolish all the remaining 68 seats in one go by January 1, 2016.  We consider that this is more compatible with the pace of constitutional development in Hong Kong, including the continued democratisation of the Legislative Council (LegCo) election and the changes in the role of appointed DC members in the LegCo election and the Chief Executive (CE) Election Committee Subsector elections.  

(2 and 3) Section 11 of the District Council Ordinance provides that the CE may appoint as members of a DC, a number of persons not exceeding the number specified in Schedule 3 to the Ordinance.  The CE is not required by the Ordinance to appoint all the 102 appointed seats.

     We are now inviting the public views on how to abolish the remaining 68 appointed seats.  The consultation period runs from February 20 to April 20, 2012.  The Administration will consider the views collected during the public consultation, including which proposal should be adopted and how the relevant legislative work should be handled.  We will then formulate a final proposal, which would be provided to the next term of Government to decide on the way forward.

Ends/Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:07


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