Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, at a media session after attending the meeting of the Legislative Council (LegCo) Subcommittee on Proposals on the Method for Selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 today (June 2):
Reporter: Mr Tam, how do you respond to lawmakers' concerns that there are some other additional requirements set by Beijing officials that depending on whether you are friends of Beijing or opponents, and opponents may not be nominated, recommended or even appointed by Beijing to be the CE (Chief Executive)?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Any electoral system, basically, would consist of two dimensions. One is the design by law. For that, I have explained this morning repeatedly that I think our proposed electoral system for universal suffrage for selecting the CE is politically neutral to any political affiliation, meaning that any aspiring candidate would have to compete on equal opportunities for nomination and recommendation and for sufficient support, so that they can become candidates for the universal suffrage election. And we have also lowered the threshold for entrance into the game by lowering the threshold to one-tenth. By that, if you consider the existing political landscape of the Election Committee, I would say, different political affiliations would have their preferred candidate to enter into the race. The design for (requiring) more than half of the support of the Nominating Committee to become formal candidates is to ensure that the system would not produce extreme or radical candidates, whether (the stance is) left or right, because the system would require cross-sectorial support for the (two or) three candidates. Therefore, it would be more conducive to produce more moderate candidates - candidates with sufficient support from all sectors or most of the sectors - and therefore ensuring the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong. The design is there and it is neutral. It would be up to individual candidates or personalities to compete. From that angle or legally, the design is as such.
But if you are talking about political competition, that is another matter. It would be subject to different composition of the Nominating Committee of the day. It would be relevant to the prevailing sentiments of the general public at each election. Just like any other Western democracy, you can never predict whether the Tory Party or the Labour Party would win the day. So it would be up to different political sentiments when it comes to the general election. This is the political dimension of our electoral system - no one can predict. Our design, including the "2 to N votes", is to inject certain elements of uncertainty into our system so that the competition would be keener and the uncertainty would be greater and thereby the process would be more interesting to the voters.
Reporter: Mr Tam, can I ask just one question? You are going to table this bill on the 17th. Any point in doing that especially when you are saying the chance of getting pass is almost zero? What will you be doing in the interim?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I did not say the chance is close to zero. I did say the chance was zero a few months ago. But I would say that there is a very slim chance for us to survive LegCo two weeks later in accordance with what most of the LegCo members have publicly stated about their position. As in any other policy, we would not give up any hope unless and until we see the result. We will continue to try our best. I and the Chief Secretary (for Administration) would try to contact as many as possible LegCo members of all parties, trying to convince them to support the Government's proposed resolution.
According to the (LegCo's) Rules of Procedure, I am afraid I have to submit the formal notice today, by midnight, so that I can table for (the LegCo's) consideration for passage of the resolution on the 17th. So, I would have to do it today. In accordance with what has been discussed in the subcommittee level, and also in light of public discussion, there is no point or reason for me to amend any of the content of the proposed resolution. Therefore, I will submit the same resolution as publicly published on April 22. It would be up to LegCo to decide two weeks later.
Reporter: (About the support of pan-democrats.)
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: As I said, the Chief Secretary (for Administration) and I would try our very best in the coming two weeks to convince them but it would be a very tremendous and uphill task for us. Unluckily, I have injured my left leg and so going uphill is never easy especially under this circumstance.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Tuesday, June 2, 2015