Following is the transcript (English portion) of a stand-up briefing on constitutional development given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after speaking on radio programmes this morning (January 8):
Reporter: What would you say to the critics who said this is another stalling tactic by the Government to promote democracy in Hong Kong?
SCA: We have made a start on the process of discussing matters relating to constitutional development. The Chief Executive has appointed this Constitutional Development Task Force. Our first mission is to clarify the concerns of the Central Government regarding certain principles in the Basic Law and at the same time report to the public our analysis of the relevant procedures to be taken in the Basic Law. So we are making a start with the process.
Reporter: Should not those ramifications have been made earlier?
SCA: Well, the concerns have been expressed recently. We are all proceeding according to the basis of the political structure in the Basic Law, and we are making a start in our work henceforth.
Reporter: Are you categorically denying that this is a stalling tactic?
SCA: This is not. We are beginning the process and this will be helpful in terms of laying a foundation for the work of the constitutional development for the future.
Reporter: So why can't you come out with a programme, a timetable? Why did you again change your mind on the issue?
SCA: There are certain steps that we need to complete before taking things to the next step and what we are aiming to do is to lay a firm foundation in terms of the legal provisions and the procedures to be taken in terms of amending the methods of elections in the future under the Basic Law. So, once we have got that in place, we can take the next step.
Reporter: When are you leaving for Beijing and who are you going to see first?
SCA: We have requested meetings with the State Council Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office and the National People's Congress Legislative Affairs Commission. And it would be up to our colleagues in Beijing to advise us whether there are other departments that we should see.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Thursday, January 8, 2004