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SCMA answers media questions on constitutional development

     The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, attended a meeting of the Wan Chai District Council this afternoon (March 11) to brief members on the "Consultation Document on the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 and for Forming the Legislative Council in 2016". Following is the transcript of his remarks at a media standup after the meeting:

Reporter: Can the term "Love China, Love Hong Kong" be turned into law and if not, how does one deal with meeting this requirement?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: My own personal view is that to love our nation, to love Hong Kong is not something we can define under the law because it consists of both objective and subjective elements. In any case, the existing provisions of the Basic Law already expect the Chief Executive (CE) to be someone who is accountable to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) as well as to be accountable to the Central People's Government (CPG). From this very provision we can see that for the CE, if he could regard the overall interest of the nation and overall interest of the HKSAR to be his core consideration of every single policy implementation, that in itself could be described as love the nation and love Hong Kong. But to further to that and to the extent that we should introduce something new in the existing legal framework, I don't think it is practicable. I don't think it is easy to do in terms of legal drafting. I would rather say it is a political expectation for the nominating committee at the end of the day to decide who to nominate, for all the 5 million electors to decide who to cast their votes for, for the CPG to decide whether to appoint a certain CE-elect to be the CE. So I would say it is a political expectation more than a legal requirement.

Reporter: On Shiu Sin-por, do you feel that as a bureau secretary you have sufficient resources to successfully lobby the Legislative Council? Or, do you need more?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I have joined the Government for 27 years and to lobby support in the Legislative Council is the bread-and-butter duties or day-in day-out duties of mine. Therefore I would say in the past I had spared no effort in lobbying every single Legislative Council member in supporting my legislative proposals, my funding proposals. And I believe that it's actually the duty of SAR Government officials to do that rather than anyone else because we are accountable to the Legislative Council, we are accountable to the public. It is our duty to do so. We cannot hire off these duties to any other people.

Reporter: So you don't think the equivalent of a congressional liaison office would be the way to go and you don't need more resources to lobby?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I was the Director of the CE's Office before as you know. By then, one of my duties was to lobby on behalf of my other bureau colleagues, if and when necessary, to help them out. I had been seeing representatives of different political parties when I was Director and through those regular liaison meetings with them, I had also lobbied them for their support and to help out my colleagues. So I think senior Government officials are working as a team. But as I said, it is for the SAR Government officials to do the lobbying job rather than to hire off the duties.

Reporter: But, are the resources sufficient?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: We would do our best. If 24 hours are not enough, we would have to double that.

Reporter: Are you now making a pitch to people in Hong Kong ...

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: It is only natural and normal for all political deals to be not ideal for anyone. If any parties should think that it is ideal for them, then the deal probably cannot be made. Therefore what we are talking about is not to go for an ideal solution but to go for something that is acceptable, that is above the bottom line so to speak. One way to help that out is to let people know that it is not the final-final package. That perhaps for the next step once we have secured universal suffrage for the 5 million Hong Kong permanent residents, then for the nominating or the nomination step, one can strive to improve that taking into account a new situation. For example, in our economic structure, when there is a new sector coming that is contributing significantly to our economic development, then at that time, why shouldn't we include them in the nominating committee? I think it is only natural for things to be improved and to take into account new developments. Therefore, legally, if we can do something along that line and if that should help the political process, we are more than happy to do so.

Reporter: That's why you suggested involving the DoJ (Department of Justice) in some way?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: We have to involve the DoJ because at the end of the day if you want to do something legal, I have to consult them. It is our duty to consult the DoJ people.

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

Ends/Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:20


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