Following is the transcript of remarks by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at a media session at the Information Services Department Press Conference Room tonight (October 9):
Chief Secretary for Administration: Let me say a few words in English. The Chief Executive announced on October 2 that he has appointed the Task Force on Constitutional Development led by me to enter into discussions with the Hong Kong Federation of Students on the sole subject of constitutional development, as they have requested. Since then, I have tasked Mr Lau Kong-wah, the Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, and his colleagues to hold preparatory talks with the Hong Kong Federation of Students representatives on three occasions.
Though some issues relating to arranging the first meeting between the Task Force and the Hong Kong Federation of Students remain outstanding, I did look forward to a constructive dialogue with the student representatives. However, with much regret, based on the public remarks made by the student representatives over these two days, especially this afternoon, I realised that the basis for a constructive dialogue between us and the students has been seriously undermined. I truly regret that we will not be able to have a meeting tomorrow which will produce any constructive outcome.
The basis for a constructive dialogue, as we have understood it, comprises two important points. First, any discussions on Hong Kong's constitutional development must be conducted within the constitutional framework laid down in the Basic Law and the relevant decisions of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC). In its August 31, 2014, decision, the NPCSC has given us a clear constitutional and legal framework for implementing universal suffrage in the selection of the Chief Executive from the year 2017. These essential constitutional principles must be observed by all of us in taking the matter forward.
Secondly, the "Occupy Central" protests, now into its (their) 12th day, have already caused a lot of disruption to the daily life of Hong Kong people, and significant loss to businesses. These unlawful activities must end as soon as possible. In the past few days, we have tried to persuade protesters to reopen some of the key roads, such as Queensway, but without success. I urge protesters to take into account public interest and retreat from the occupied sites immediately. It is therefore misleading and not acceptable to Government for these talks between the Task Force and the students to be linked to whether and when the protests would stop, and, worse still, to be deployed as an excuse for "Occupy Central" organisers to incite more people to join the process.
That said, we remain sincere towards these discussions and we hope to arrive at a better basis for conducting constructive dialogue with the student representatives in due course. But I must stress that constitutional development is a highly complex and sensitive matter which will require time, patience, wisdom and pragmatism to build a broad consensus amongst various stakeholders with differences in opinions, including our young people. And this has to be done within the parameters of the Basic Law and the relevant National People's Congress Standing Committee decisions under the "One Country, Two Systems" principle. Thank you very much.
Reporter: Did you say "in due course" would be the next meeting? When exactly would that be? And is the retreat of the occupiers in various districts a prerequisite for the Government to actually start the negotiation? Thank you.
Chief Secretary for Administration: As I said, we remain sincere towards these discussions. We understand that our young people have a lot of passion for constitutional development in Hong Kong and their urge, or their appeal, for more democratic development in Hong Kong is fully appreciated. That's why we remain open and sincere to have this sort of dialogue with the students. But in order for the dialogue to commence, we have to have a constructive basis, and I have just outlined to you the two important bases for any constructive dialogue to take place. One is we must fully respect and abide by the Basic Law provisions and the decisions of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, and secondly is we must not allow this dialogue to be linked to the "Occupy Central" movement. In other words, they could not claim that they will only retreat when they have this dialogue or when they have managed to secure something substantive from the dialogue. The two are separate matters.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Thursday, October 9, 2014
Issued at HKT 22:11