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Transcript of remarks at press conference on Method for Selecting the Chief Executive by Universal Suffrage Public Consultation (with photos/video)

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam; the Secretary for Justice, Mr Rimsky Yuen, SC; and the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, today (January 7) held a press conference on the Method for Selecting the Chief Executive by Universal Suffrage Public Consultation at the Auditorium, Central Government Offices, Tamar. Following is the transcript of remarks at the press conference:

Reporter: I've got two questions. Firstly, does the Government have any concrete plans or strategies to gain the support of pan-democratic legislators other than merely appealing to them? And secondly, what happened to the flexibility which the Government said there would be in the make-up of the Nominating Committee, as it appears to be absent from the present consultation? Thank you.

Chief Secretary for Administration: I'll address the first question and then invite the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs to answer your second question. In launching the second-round public consultation, we have to abide by the Decision made by the National People's Congress Standing Committee on the 31st of August last year. So as far as this constitutional and legal framework is concerned, there is no room for any concessions or compromises to be made in order to win over the support from the pan-democratic members. I have to make this position absolutely clear so that there will be no illusion that concessions could be made in this particular respect.

     So, beyond the legal and constitutional framework, what else could we offer in order to gain the support of the pan-democratic members? I would say that there are a couple of things that we will try very hard. First is to try to explain to the pan-democratic members that despite the legal framework that has been laid down by the National People's Congress Standing Committee, we truly believe that we still have the opportunity to devise a set of electoral arrangements which is fair, open, transparent and highly competitive. So, in other words, there should be equal opportunities for eligible persons to seek nomination from the Nominating Committee. Secondly, you used the word "appeal". I think I will agree with that. We need to appeal to the pan-democratic members that it is of high importance to deliver universal suffrage in the selection of the Chief Executive for the various reasons that we have set out in this very short leaflet, and we hope that members of the public will also use the occasion of the second-round public consultation to convey this very strong aspiration to the pan-democratic members, and hopefully members will take into full account the public's aspirations in deciding on how they should vote on the package that we are going to submit to the Legislative Council (LegCo) for decision under the Third Step of the ("Five-step") constitutional process.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: On your second question about the composition and formation method of the Nominating Committee, actually in our consultation document the entire Chapter Three is dedicated to this issue and we have raised several questions therein as well. So we would welcome any views and proposals from the community on these questions.

     But in terms of sequence of events, we would have to, first of all, submit a resolution to the Legislative Council in the second quarter of this year to amend Annex I to the Basic Law. And only upon approval by more than two-thirds majority of all members of the LegCo that we would be able to proceed with local legislation and only by then we would have to handle the detailed arrangements for the composition and formation method of the Nominating Committee. In the light of this sequence of events or timing, it is only natural for us to focus more on the necessary elements to fill the gaps, if you like, of any amendments to Annex I to the Basic Law and that is the nomination procedures.

     In our consultation document, as the Chief Secretary (for Administration) has mentioned, the key issue is whether we would introduce two stages of the nomination procedures, to introduce a stage that we call the recommendation stage. And we are seeking comments from the community on whether we should lower the entrance requirement for the recommendation stage from currently one-eighth to, say, 100 members of the Nominating Committee. By doing that, as you can see, we would substantially increase the number of possible candidates from eight to 12 in terms of arithmetic. And, if you look at the number of 100 and if you look at the current political landscape of the Election Committee, you can actually see more than what we have written in the consultation document. If you compare the current political landscape of the Election Committee with this possible lowering of the threshold, you can see we are actually encouraging more people, more aspiring candidates from all walks of life, from all different political camps, to come out to seek nomination from the Nominating Committee.

     The second area that we would like to introduce is to, in effect, bring forward the election atmosphere and the competitive atmosphere, not only starting from the universal suffrage stage but also to bring it forward to the nominating stage whereby the possible 12 aspiring candidates would compete for nomination. They would not only have to face the 1,200 members of the Nominating Committee but at the same time they would have to face the 5 million possible voters. So their election platforms, their way to speak to the Nominating Committee, in effect they are speaking to 5 million Hong Kong voters. And the opinions and the preferences of these 5 million voters would no doubt, would no doubt influence the choice of the Nominating Committee members. At the end of the day, these 1,200 members would have to be accountable to the general public about their choice, about the way that they choose the two or three candidates for universal suffrage.

     We hope, by doing so, we would make the nomination procedures more open, more transparent and indeed more accountable so as to alleviate any doubt or concerns of the community about whether the current arrangement would reflect their true desire to elect the most appropriate candidate to be their future Chief Executive. So, if you can also look at the various paragraphs of our consultation document, hopefully you would see what we call the intention behind this consultation document by the three of us is actually, hopefully, to introduce more incentives for the pan-democrat members to come round to the fact that let's have universal suffrage by 2017.

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

Ends/Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Issued at HKT 20:24


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