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Transcript of remarks by CE at media session before ExCo meeting (with video)
     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, at a media session before the Executive Council meeting this morning (April 17):
Reporter: Mrs Lam, ... Hong Kong people making pro-independence remarks. Can you guarantee now and in the future that they won't face legal action or censorship, at least now until 2047?
Chief Executive: Nobody can answer a question like this. Nobody has a crystal ball in front of him or her to guarantee that certain action, certain behaviour will not be breaching the law, because the law is evolving. So the answer to your question is it will depend on the situation, depend on the law, depend on that particular behaviour.
Reporter: Mrs Lam, will the Government be taking a more active approach in pushing forward Article 23 legislation? Looking forward, would the Government be able to achieve a favourable atmosphere next year or possibly, like, in two years' time? Also, on the reading subsidies, why does the Government decide to bring back the reading subsidies? Would that be enough to promote reading?
Chief Executive: Well, on the second question first. This campaign to promote a reading culture in Hong Kong is not a sudden idea. If you look back at my manifesto and my Policy Address, I have promised that in Hong Kong we should do more to promote this reading culture. The benefits of reading are multiple. I am a reader, I like reading books because it will enrich my knowledge, it will inspire ideas and thinking and so on. So we have spent a few months to co-ordinate the work of various departments in the promotion of reading culture in Hong Kong, namely the Education Bureau and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, because the latter is operating a number of public libraries in Hong Kong. So I feel that we are now ready to roll out this package of measures, and of course because the World Book Day is coming in a few days' time, so in order to raise the profile of reading culture, both the bureau and the department will be organising large-scale activities with my own personal participation. So I felt it's timely to announce this work of the Government.
     As far as the subsidy, it was always there. There was a sort of reading grant to promote reading in Chinese and in English, but it was stopped in the 2016/17 school year, partly because of the overall savings requirement in the Government and partly because it was then felt that the schools should have enough resources to buy books, because we are talking about a grant of only $30,000 for a secondary school. But I do feel that in my general philosophy investing in education is the best investment that we could do for our younger generation, so if schools do feel that it is very important to have a dedicated reading subsidy – and we could afford it – so we are now providing this additional, or this new, reading subsidy, which will cost us about $48 million every year, and I hope that the schools could make full use of this subsidy not only to buy books but also to promote reading culture among students using different sorts of activities. I am sure teachers are very innovative, so they will find the best way to promote reading amongst the students.
     Now, coming back to Basic Law Article 23, I have time and again stressed that local legislation to put in place Basic Law Article 23, which is to protect national security, is the constitutional duty of Hong Kong, of the Hong Kong SAR Government and of myself as the Chief Executive. But in order to do our job we have to ensure that we have the right environment, the suitable conditions. Otherwise, it will simply be abortive and futile and wasting a lot of time and resources on the part of the Government, the legislators and society at large. I stand by what I said in my Policy Address. Yes, while it is our duty to do this work, the time is not right yet. We need to create the condition which is conducive to enacting Basic Law Article 23 because of the previous experience we had and the controversies that we have encountered. So it is my duty to try to create that conducive environment in a very thoughtful and vigilant way, but unfortunately the time has not come yet and I do not yet have a timetable so the reference to next year is totally speculation.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Issued at HKT 12:45
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