Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, at a media session at the Legislative Council Complex this evening (May 10):
Reporter: Do you expect the debate to take much longer than expected?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I have never set any definitive time frame for the issue to finish, especially as the issue itself has been quite well-debated in the society in the past two years. We have entered into the committee stage discussion and there is no restriction on the number of times that any Member can stand up and speak on any issue. Of course there are some guidelines in the Rules of Procedures and I can see that the Chairman has actually tightened some of the control about the way that individual Members should speak. So I am more optimistic now after a day's debate. I hope that in the near future this stage will pass and we will come to the actual casting of vote pretty soon.
Reporter: So how many of the 1,300 amendments have been passed so far?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: If we can ever come to the casting vote on the Committee Stage Amendments, all it takes is some 21 hours for the bell to ring. Then we are okay. But we haven't reached that stage yet. But I hope that those Members who like to take to the floor again and again would not only observe the Rules of Procedures but more importantly should observe the sentiment of the community. They should observe the way to preserve the dignity and credibility of the Legislative Council (LegCo). That is precisely what I have spoken about in the remarks that I made around noontime today. I worked in the Secretariat of this Council 20 years ago. It's a huge difference now. Of course I respect the progress in the society and the higher expectation of the society. But at the same time I feel quite sad to see that the quality of debate seems to have not been catching up with the progress in other areas of the community. So I hope from now on the debate in this Council will go back to the normal track and will escalate itself to a more normal level that the community would hope for.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Thursday, May 10, 2012