28 October 2016
Raymond Tam says it is time to let the younger generation handle political reform. Photo: HKEJ
Raymond Tam says it is time to let the younger generation handle political reform. Photo: HKEJ

Chances of election package passing slim, minister says

The chances of the Legislative Council passing the government’s election reform package next week are slim, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs said.

It is unlikely that Beijing and the pan-democrats will soften their stances at the last minute, Raymond Tam Chi-yuen told the Hong Kong Economic Journal in an interview Wednesday.

If the proposal is voted down, it will be a time for the central government and pan-democrats to mend their relationship in the “post-election reform” era, Tam said.

The Hong Kong government will help both sides enhance communications, he said.

“When we look back, there must be some things that we should have done better,” Tam said.

“Should we have said clearly at the very beginning that public nomination violates the Basic Law? Perhaps we should have.”

The voting down of the package will not represent a failure of the “one country, two systems” principle, Tam said, as the central government will definitely continue to apply it to Hong Kong.

Over the last 20 months, radical comments and actions have emerged from both the pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps, fueling the polarization of society, he said.

These extreme voices, which may grow after the election package is voted down, are no good to Hong Kong and its administration, Tam said.

It will be unfortunate for Hong Kong if moderate and pragmatic voices cannot be consolidated and expand, he said.

Tam said political reform is unlikely to be on the public agenda within the next two years if the election bill is rejected.

He said he hopes Beijing and Hong Kong can restart the conversation and build mutual trust on other topics, such as economic development and cross-border issues.

“I have dealt with political reform three times [2005, 2010 and 2015] and cannot stand it any more. It’s time to let the younger generation handle it,” Tam said.

He said he does not know whether he will stay in the government, as whether Beijing wants him to stay and who will become the next chief executive remain unknown.

Tam said he prefers to be involved in a bureau that can directly help the public.

Translation by Charis Heung

[Chinese version中文版]

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