Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, at a media session before attending the Legislative Council meeting today (October 15):
Reporter: Is there any timetable right now for the (Hong Kong) Federation of Students and the Government to resume any form of dialogue to resolve such tension in the society?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: The Chief Secretary (for Administration) and I have just come back from Guangzhou for the Pan-Pearl River Delta (Region Co-operation and Development) Forum. In the past day or two, we have been liaising with the Federation of Students through a middleman to see whether and when the dialogue could be resumed. Hopefully, we would find a common basis that we would have a constructive, frank and direct dialogue that would take the matter forward for the 2017 election of the Chief Executive (CE) by universal suffrage.
Reporter: Can we still wait? Can we still wait for any longer? Can we have a speed-up process?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: We have been liaising with them, as I said, through a middleman, in the past day or two, and hopefully the dialogue could be forthcoming. Let me hereby reiterate that it is the Government's responsibility to implement the 2017 CE election by universal suffrage in accordance with the Basic Law and the relevant decision of the Standing Committee (of the National People's Congress). On this basis, we are open to any kind of dialogue with all stakeholders in the community, including the Hong Kong Federation of Students as well as some other important stakeholders, in particular, the Legislative Council (LegCo) members. Today is the first meeting of this year's session. I myself will look forward to talking to all 70 members of the LegCo with a view to securing their support - at least two-thirds majority support - to pass a consensus package that we'll have to discuss and devise in the coming months or so.
Reporter: Do you think the talks will have any effect to remove the protesters from the street? Do you think it'll achieve anything? The Chief Executive last week didn't seem to see it positive that such talk could actually achieve anything.
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: There are two different timelines. The issue of constitutional development has been around for decades, actually. I guess, even if we settle with a consensus package for 2017, there are bound to be some other important issues, including 2020, including 2022, so the talks on constitutional development will be ongoing, and it is a long-drawn process as in the past 10 years or two decades. But, the immediate question is about some major roads on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon side still being blocked by the protesters - that has to be resolved in another timeline. It has to be resolved in the near future so as to avoid further damage to the livelihood of our citizens.
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I think at the end of the day, it is the overall and long-term interest of the community as a whole, to be borne in mind by all stakeholders in the process, including students, ordinary residents, the Government and Legislative Councillors. At the end of the day, each of us will have our own position to take. But the only, and I think the most important, point to bear in mind is the overall and long-term interest of the whole community in Hong Kong.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Wednesday, October 15, 2014