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SCMA speaks to the media

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in response to media questions after attending a radio phone-in programme this morning (July 16):

Reporter: Early this morning, Mrs Lam (the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam) said she wasn't super-confident that the political reform package would be passed. How confident are you at this stage? The second question is: In the second (round of) public consultation, will Hong Kong people be given simple choices of plans of how to select the Chief Executive that don't include the screening process?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I will answer your second question first. I think the coming few months will be quite critical in a way that it is now time that we enter into another phase of positive engagement. I mean all stakeholders should be coming round the table to discuss a possible consensus package that will survive the Legislative Council, the Chief Executive as well as the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and thereby at the end of the day we will be able to implement universal suffrage (for the Chief Executive) for 2017. It would be a very interactive process, during which I think gives and takes will have to happen. What the Chief Secretary has appealed to the Legislative Council members as well as various sectors of the community is that no one should insist on their position as of today because, to answer your first question, as of today, there is no single proposal that would enjoy overwhelming support in the Legislative Council, not to mention in the community. Therefore, if you ask me whether I am confident today, I will say not. I am not confident at all. I am quite confident that if I put forward any proposal today to the Legislative Council, it will be defeated and we will have status quo for 2017. But, luckily, we still have a few months to come and I, together with the Task Force (on Constitutional Development) members, will do our best to strike a deal in the coming few months. But that will require also sincerity and the willingness to listen and to adopt each other's important elements so that the final package would survive the day.

Reporter: In the second round of consultation, I want to clarify, will Hong Kong people be given different proposals to select and will some of the proposals allow genuine choices of candidates? Will that be one of the choices that Hong Kong people will have in the second round of consultation?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I think the office of the Chief Executive is the most important political institution in Hong Kong. Therefore, our people will certainly like to elect a person that can help us or lead us to face the many challenges and to settle all the differences in Hong Kong so that we can have a better tomorrow. Thereby, I really appreciate people's sentiment that we should have the next Chief Executive to be elected by universal suffrage and that they would have choices that they feel comfortable to cast their votes on. But it would depend on several things, to say the least, the actual names or persons who would come forward to face the challenge and to stand for election. As in my very limited social circle, I have sometimes jokingly asked around to see who would like to stand for election for the next time. I have received no serious candidates so far. I think it is because of the prevailing political situation is as such that any aspiring candidates would really have to think twice whether they would like to do such sacrifices. But having said that, to answer the first part of your question, I would envisage that in the second round of public consultation, our aim is to put forward a government proposal. It would either be in a single proposal like what we did in 2005 or we would on some critical elements, because of the lack of consensus, that we would put forward certain options for the community to discuss further so that during the duration of the second round of public consultation, we would be able to narrow the remaining or outstanding differences at those critical issues such as the nomination procedure that will enable me to put forward a formal resolution to the Legislative Council in the first quarter of next year. That would be the aim so I cannot pre-empt one way or the other but I would envisage a single option or several options on several critical issues.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Wednesday, July 16, 2014