Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, at a media session in the Legislative Council Complex this afternoon (May 16):
Reporter: Have you taken any special steps or involved any extra resources in dealing with this issue (the filibuster)?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Regarding human resources, the major additional initiative that we have taken for this week, starting today, is to recruit some 40 young and energetic colleagues from various bureaux and departments. They are of Administrative Officer and Executive Officer backgrounds. They will be here to help ensure that the quorum will be there, and that the relevant officers who have to attend the meeting are taken care of, as well as providing the necessary information for the debate for our use as and when necessary. As you can see from my Under Secretary, she is now in well-equipped costume, well-prepared for a long-drawn battle. I am less equipped costume-wise, and as a matter of fact, I am suffering from a slight flu and on medication. I hope I won't fall into sleep too soon. I have also asked the kind help of Mr Ronald Chan from the Chief Executive's Office to help out in ensuring that the quorum will be here as well. On a personal note, my wife has given me three boxes of sore throat candies. I will take these into the Chamber. I am not too sure whether that will violate the Rules of Procedures, but I hope not because that is something necessary for me.
Reporter: Secretary, what do you think of this filibuster action and the reasons behind it? Is it in some way a good training exercise for all concerned?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: On a personal level, I am not too keen on having this kind of experience or training. To say the least, this will actually seriously undermine the normal progress of government business to be transacted in the Legislative Council (LegCo). All I can say is that when I woke up this morning, I encouraged myself to face this marathon with a sense of perseverance and a sense of hope that may be, just may be, after a few days' marathon, that the issue will be settled one way or the other within this week. That is my personal hope.
Reporter: As interesting as it may be to cover and as exciting as it may be for people in the Chamber, do you now think that this filibuster and counter-filibuster is undermining public confidence in the politicians?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: It is too early to say or judge. I think it depends on the performance of the relevant LegCo Members today, tonight, tomorrow, tomorrow night, and thereafter. I think the public will judge Members of the LegCo on the content of their speeches, on the strength of their argument, on the way that they respect different opinions and on the way they transact LegCo business. I think the general public will judge them in this light. As far as the Government is concerned, of course we hope that the LegCo would be back to its normal track very soon. We look forward to having this Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2012 settled one way or the other within this week, so that we can all move on with other business.
Reporter: It's always open to the Government if it should choose to extend the length of time the legislature sits. Can you give a thought on that?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: That is quite impossible for this year, mainly because of the September election of the LegCo, and under the law the Chief Executive has already by gazette stipulated that on July 18 the Council will stand prorogued for the sake of equality for all aspiring candidates. Therefore, it is an absolute deadline for all LegCo business to be transacted and finished before July 18, so there is no question of further extending the time.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Wednesday, May 16, 2012