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SCMA answers question at media session

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, at a media session after attending the meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Constitutional Affairs this afternoon (January 20):

Reporter: Secretary, a legal expert said on Saturday that the nomination right should be exercised by elite minorities only. Is that a new direction from Beijing? And also, just now some lawmakers criticised the Government for being very vague on its position (towards various proposals). What do you make of that?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I would answer the second part of the question first. In fact I should have answered your question which is similar to this question as well. The Government at the moment is having the first stage of public consultation. We have stated at the outset that we would not take any concrete position on any particular proposal at this stage because it would not be fair and it is not appropriate for us to take such a position knowing that the community actually still has a wide range of opinions on specific proposals, especially on some of the core issues raised by political parties in the past. Therefore, I guess during the first stage of public consultation, we will continue to adopt a very open and listening mode to all sorts of proposals. But, at a certain point in time, I guess, we would come back to you and inform you about the written submissions that we have received so far and what sort of categories of opinions that we have received. I think we may be able to do so at a certain point in time during the first stage of the public consultation.

     On your first question about, I think you are referring to Professor Wang (Zhenmin), his use of the term "meritocracy" as opposed to "democracy". Actually, these two terms were used 2 000 years ago by the Greek philosophers, but I don't think we are entering into a kind of philosophical or political science debate as such. After all, the only basis for us to proceed with our proposal in the future is the Basic Law and relevant decisions and interpretations of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Therefore, as I answered this colleague here, that we are not, or at least I do not think Professor Wang has suggested a new principle or a new ground for taking forward our constitutional development. In my view, he is just using his own term to describe one of the core principles of constitutional development, having regard to different sectors of the community. Actually, we have included that as one of the four principles in our consultation document. So, in this regard, I don't think we have a different view. It's just the use of term is different. As I said, I do not want to enter into Greek philosophers' debate 2 000 years later at this stage.

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

Ends/Monday, January 20, 2014