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Government's response to procession
     In response to the public procession today (January 1), a Government spokesman said, "The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government fully respects the right of Hong Kong people to take part in processions and their freedom of expression as guaranteed in our law."

     On some procession participants’ claims that the Government should withdraw the legal proceedings over oath taking, the spokesman reiterated that the HKSAR Government respects the fact that Legislative Council (LegCo) members were elected by voters. "However, as the Court has decided, it is equally important that the LegCo and all LegCo members should act in accordance with the law," the spokesman said.

     "As explained in the 2004 judgment of Mr Justice Hartmann, the taking of an oath in accordance with the requirements of Article 104 of the Basic Law (BL) is a 'mandatory constitutional obligation imposed on all members-elect of LegCo'. A LegCo member must take his or her oath in a manner and form that accords with the legal requirements," the spokesman continued.

     "The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC)'s interpretation of Article 104 of the BL was made pursuant to the provisions of Article 67(4) of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and Article 158(1) of the BL. The interpretation aims to reiterate and explain clearly the meaning of Article 104 of the BL. No change has been made to the content of the Article."

     The spokesman added, "As regards the implementation of universal suffrage, the HKSAR Government has all along emphasised that constitutional development in Hong Kong must be in conformity with the BL and the relevant interpretation and decisions of the NPCSC.

     "To attain the ultimate aim of selecting the Chief Executive by universal suffrage as stipulated in Article 45 of the BL, the current-term HKSAR Government presented in 2015 a package of proposals for the method for selecting the CE by universal suffrage.
     "These proposals were in accordance with the relevant constitutional and legal regime, and were also reasonable and rational. We were deeply disappointed that the motion did not receive sufficient support at the LegCo."
Ends/Sunday, January 1, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:51
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