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 (LegCo) Complex this afternoon (May 17):
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: As far as the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2012 is concerned, we have entered into a new stage in a moment's time - Members are going to cast their votes in individual Committee Stage Amendments one by one. There are actually more than 1,300 amendments. I understand from the Secretariat that it may take two or three days' time. After the bill has been transacted, it is the determination of the Administration that for the outstanding work to be done in the LegCo for this current-term Government, we will spare no effort in submitting the proposed bills and resolutions to the LegCo and seeking their support.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the media for your great efforts and for your hard work here. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues who have performed extra work last night to ensure that the quorum was here. Therefore, I would like to thank them wholeheartedly. I would also like to thank all Members who have attended the relevant LegCo meetings during the past three weeks and spent a very long time on the discussion and debate on this bill. I would like to thank them as well.
Reporter: Whatever you may think of the filibuster, it is a means of the minority to express itself. Isn't the President's decision to interpret the rules, stop the fatigue and stop the debate a suppression of the minority's opportunity to voice its discontent?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Under the Basic Law, the LegCo Rules of Procedures are actually decided at a point by the LegCo itself, and under the Rules of Procedures, it is for the LegCo President to run the meetings in accordance with the rules. Therefore, as far as the Administration is concerned, we will fully respect whatever decision made by the President. We are not in a position to offer any comment on his decision once he has made it.
Reporter: What's left with people who feel aggrieved with news like this?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I understand that in the LegCo there is a Committee on Rules of Procedure, and they are meeting from time to time to see whether their rules would have to be updated taking into account the development in council business as well as the changing aspirations of the general public. Therefore, I am sure that if there is anything that Members will like to revisit in the Rules of Procedure, they will do so through that channel as well. But as I have mentioned, I am not in a position to offer any further comment because I am with the executive and it is for the LegCo to decide.
Reporter: My question is not about the legislature's action. My question is more on the public response, Secretary. People in the community may look at this and say that the opportunity for the minority to express itself is being shut down.
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I observed that the LegCo President as well as some LegCo Members have already expressed their views and positions on the matter, and I think now it is for the public to judge themselves.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Thursday, May 17, 2012