THE government will not conduct a public survey or a referendum on
whether or not appointed and ex-officio seats in the district councils
should be retained.
Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Maureen Chan Leung
Mong-lin disclosed this yesterday when she attended a meeting held by
a bill's committee of the Legislative Council to scrutinise the
District Councils Bill.
The bill stipulates the arrangements for the election of district
councils currently District Boards to be held in November.
But the pro-democracy camp has dubbed the move a setback to the pace
of democracy because it would retain appointed seats abolished by the
British in 1994.
The bill also suggests retaining 27 traditional ex-officio district
council seats in the New Territories.
At yesterday's meeting, the panel invited representatives of 21
concern groups and political parties to express their views.
Most of them opposed the retention of the appointments system and
Democrat Cheung Man-kwong asked the administration whether it would
conduct a public survey or referendum to seek the views of members of
Mrs Chan replied that the government had conducted a study and a
comprehensive consultation from late 1997 until the end of last year.
"And we believe the opinions we have got are reasonable and
Mrs Chan had earlier repeated that of the 98 submissions received some
had favoured the retention of appointed and ex-officio seats.
Meanwhile, among the groups and political parties that opposed the
government's proposal, a representative of the Hong Kong Democratic
Foundation blamed the government's move for creating a political void
in the history of the SAR.
"The government is aiming to scrap the two municipal councils
although it says it will empower the district councils," said the
foundation's core member Tony Chan Tak-wai, who is also a member of
the Provisional District Board of Eastern.
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