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Transcript of remarks by CE at media session (with video)

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at a media session joined by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, and the Director of Immigration, Mr Chan Kwok-ki, at the ground floor lobby of the Office of the Chief Executive at Tamar this morning (September 7):

Reporter: ... is that why you are giving up ... the chance of meeting the President ...?

Chief Executive: Well, the change is very significant, and it is also a matter that is of concern amongst the people of Hong Kong.

Reporter: Mr Lai, Hong Kong still plays a very passive role after the exchange. Why don't you just ask for the power to control the number of people who can come in? ...

Secretary for Security: I think, first of all, all Mainland residents who need to leave the Mainland for tourism, for business or whatever purposes have to apply for permission under the Mainland laws. Moreover, under the Basic Law, it is also very clear that people from other parts of China who want to enter the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region need approval. This is the system and this is the law. As regards Hong Kong, we have all along adopted a liberal policy in welcoming visitors from all over the world. At present, we have more than 170 countries and territories whose residents can come to Hong Kong without prior applying for a visa. But in the case of Mainland residents, they have to do so following the Basic Law as well as the Mainland relevant regulations. When visitors arrive in Hong Kong, we conduct immigration examination at our checkpoints. At checkpoints we exercise our legal power to grant them permission to enter. This system has been working for many, many, many years and there is no reason why we should make any change.

Chief Executive: I think your question is basically this: Why doesn't Hong Kong have unilateral power to fix the number of Mainland visitors to ...?

Reporter: No, I want to ask why you won't try to take a more active role ...

Chief Executive: Well, we have taken a very active role. Otherwise, we wouldn't be standing here answering your questions, making this announcement. You have to realise that even without the role that you think we should have, the Central Government has been very supportive and they are aware of the concern of the Hong Kong people, and therefore as soon as I raised this question with the Central Authorities and passed on the concern of the Hong Kong people, they responded, and that's why we're here having this press conference.

Reporter: Mr Leung, can you explain your logic? My understanding is that the opponents want communication and dialogue with the Government, and they want it to be transparent and to be public. So I don't understand why ...

Chief Executive: I'm prepared to be as transparent as can be. The whole point is about having a dialogue with anyone who has a view on this subject. I'm prepared to be transparent.

Reporter: They are out in CGO to have a dialogue with you. Why don't you just go out there?

Chief Executive: Well, we have made all channels open, and I'm prepared to talk. But the result of the talk must not be predetermined. If the result of the talk is predetermined to the extent of having to withdraw the subject, then it isn't really a dialogue.

Reporter: You are predetermining by saying that the precondition of the dialogue is not withdrawing the subject ...

Chief Executive: Between withdrawing and going ahead with the subject, as we have now seen, there are many other possibilities of handling the situation. For example, a couple of days ago, one education body proposed that perhaps we should have a cooling-off period for a year and then we can discuss, and that's something that we can discuss. And so, as I said, the space between withdrawing and keeping the subject is quite wide, and I'm prepared to listen to all proposals and rationale behind these proposals.

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

Ends/Friday, September 7, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:40


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