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Transcript of USCMA's remarks at a media session

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Miss Adeline Wong, at a media session after attending a radio programme this morning (July 23):

Reporter: Miss Wong, what will the Government do if the majority view is that the Government shouldn't make any changes?

Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Today is just the second day after we have announced the consultation paper, and the consultation will last for two months. I think it is still too early to say what the Government will do in case a particular option is preferred by the respondents. So what we are going to do now is to listen carefully and in a very open manner the respondents' views and suggestions that we are going to receive in the coming two months. And then afterwards, we will do a very detailed and thorough analysis, including the legal aspects and also the other technical and implementation aspects of the proposals, before we put forward a final or revised proposal for consideration by the legislature and also the community. In any event, in putting forward such a proposal, we will carefully consider all the views received, and we will also produce a report publicising all the opinions or submissions that we are going to receive and also the Government's views and analysis of those views.

Reporter: Is it sensible for the Government to let the public choose between various options even though, you know, some of them may be unconstitutional?

Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: In the consultation paper, the Government has not taken the view as to the legality or constitutionality of the proposals. What we are saying is that if we are going to pursue these proposals, we will have to look into the legal aspects carefully. At this stage or on this particular day, we cannot categorically say that whether a certain particular proposal is constitutional or otherwise. We will have to look into the particular detailed arrangement of each option before we can make such a judgement.

     In the coming months, we are going to do a very thorough analysis of the various options, including Options 1, 3 and 4 in the consultation paper. We will, of course, let the public know our views on those options.

     As regards Option 2, which is the proposal put forward by the Government, of course we have done a very thorough and detailed legal analysis. We are satisfied that this option is in compliance with the Basic Law and also is legally defensible.

Reporter: Some lawmakers have criticised that the consultation itself is a little bit pointless, and the proposals themselves are unconstitutional. What is your take on that?

Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: This consultation exercise is a very open one. We are very sincere in conducting the consultation. As everybody will see from our consultation paper, the very, very first question in Chapter 5, which is to seek public views on whether the public consider that it is necessary to plug the loophole. If the public consider that this is not a loophole and needs not be plugged, then of course they can give us their views as to whether the status quo should be maintained. If they consider that this is a loophole that should be plugged, then of the four options set out in the consultation paper, which one is preferred by them.

     And of course, we have another question at the very end, asking members of the public to give us views as to whether there are other feasible options, and whether they have other suggestions or views. So you can see from the questions we have set out in Chapter 5 that this is a very open consultation. We do not have any preconception or preconceived idea as to the final outcome of the consultation.

Reporter: What about that some criticisms said your proposals put forward are unconstitutional, and letting the public choose one of these proposals is simply ridiculous?

Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: First and foremost, Option 2 was proposed by the Government, and of course we have done a very thorough and detailed internal analysis of the legal aspect of this proposal. We are satisfied and also convinced that this one is in compliance with the Basic Law and is legally defensible and in order.

     As to the other three options, they were put forward by some Legislative Council Members or other members of the public in the past few months. So, as we are going to do a very open consultation, we think it is a right move for us to set out all these options in the consultation paper as well.

     As to whether these options are constitutional or in compliance with the Basic Law, of course it will depend very much on the detailed arrangements of these options. We cannot, today, say categorically whether they are constitutional or not, because it will very much depend on the detailed arrangement. For example, in Option 1, we are talking about restricting the resigning Member from participating in subsequent elections in the same term. If the restriction is a very time-limited one, and if it is only to restrict the resigning Member from participating in the by-election to fill the vacancy left by this Legislative Council Member, then it might be, I said it might be, a proportionate and also a defensible response to the problem we are facing. So it very much depends on the detailed arrangements of the proposals.

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

Ends/Saturday, July 23, 2011