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SCMA speaks at media session

     Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, at a media session after attending a radio programme this morning (April 18):

Reporter: What would the package of political reform that's going to be announced on Wednesday be like? Will the threshold for nomination be lowered? How many people do you expect will enter and how many will actually stand as CE candidates? And is the Government trying to arrange a meeting between the pan-democrats and the Central Government officials? Will it achieve anything because the package will be out by then?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: First of all, on the package of proposals, we would of course announce it this coming Wednesday, as we have informally informed the Legislative Council members. What we are going to do are three aspects. First of all, we would put in legal drafting form the essential elements of the Decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee promulgated by the end of August last year. We would use legal drafting terms to codify those elements. The second aspect we would do is, in the same draft resolution, we would include some elements that are not mentioned in that Decision but at the same time are necessary to be included in Annex I to the Basic Law, including whether there should be an entrance requirement, and how the Nominating Committee should cast their vote in nominating two to three candidates; we would include that in the draft resolution as well. Our approach would be to use the necessary legal room to maximise the democratic elements, and also to inject some openness, transparency and accountability in that respect, and to allow more people, more aspiring personalities to enter this "game of thrones", so to speak.

     Also, what we are going to announce this Wednesday is to indicate some directions for those elements that would only be dealt with at local legislation level. That would not be included in Annex I (to the Basic Law), but we guess the Legislative Council members would like to know what the SAR Government would propose when it comes to local legislation.

     On the meeting with Central People's Government representatives, in the past few days, some Legislative Council members have raised this request to us, and we would faithfully convey those messages to our counterparts in Beijing. In the past one or two days, I myself had at working level passed the same message to my counterparts as well. As far as the SAR Government is concerned, we are very receptive and positive in arranging such meeting again. Whether the meeting would generate any result would be up to those parties who come to the meeting and we as the SAR Government would continue to play a facilitating role in that respect.

Reporter: The threshold - would it be lowered quite substantially?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: The principal direction is that we would like to lower the entrance threshold as against the current entrance threshold - the one-eighth or 150 nomination requirement of the existing Election Committee. But, whether we would lower it to a very large extent, I don't think so because we would also like to maintain the orderly conduct of the election process. So we have to make a balance. But as far as we have the room to do that, and as far as we have paid sufficient regard to practicality, then we would like to make it as low as possible. Please have some patience and wait for Wednesday.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Saturday, April 18, 2015