Q&A | South China Morning Post
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  • Jan 27, 2015
  • Updated: 3:27am

Q&A

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 June, 2012, 12:00am
 

June 4 crackdown

Q: Under your rule and the principle of 'one country, two systems' in Hong Kong, would activities commemorating the June 4 movement be allowed?

A: Freedoms like freedom of speech and of assembly are guaranteed by the laws of Hong Kong. On June 4 next year, those who mourn for the deceased in the same way as [they did this week] can still hold their activities.

I have no plan to change the law [in this respect]. We act in accordance with the law today. The same applies next year.

I am aware that some people have genuine concerns. To them, [I can say that] I will definitely maintain good communication with them. I will let them know my stance through [the media].

Some people, meanwhile, have misplaced apprehensions. Before 1997, many [public figures] openly said ... 'As I am a pro-democracy [activist], I will not be able to leave Hong Kong after 1997 as [I am worried that] I will not be allowed to return home'.

Others said 'I could be put into jail after 1997', while some said some newspapers and magazines could be forced to shut down after 1997.

In the 10 years following 1997, did this happen? No, it didn't.

Q: Were you personally touched seeing the turnout of the vigil [on Monday]?

A: I will not ... I am not saying I was not touched. I have no comment [on the turnout].

Reconciliation with the pro-government and pan-democratic camp

Q: How would you assess the result of the reconciliation [between your allies and those who supported defeated candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen]?

A: It is good. Many of Henry Tang Ying-yen's supporters were good friends of mine. But during the election campaign, they supported Tang.

We should have political maturity. There can also be competition in the pro-establishment camp. In the US, when the primary of a party is over, they remain in the same party. Their party will endorse one single candidate. When the battle between two candidates [from two different parties] is over, it is still one country. This is maturity.

Q: Should the scope of reconciliation be enlarged to cover the pan-democratic faction? Will your cabinet include some surprising names - those who are considered democrats?

A: I will try to be as inclusive as possible.

Spending on duty visits

Q: In future overseas trips, will you set a good example by flying business class [rather than first class, as Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has done] and advise the top officials under your administration to follow suit?

A: I will adhere to the following principle: on government-funded duty visits, for long-haul flights, if lie-flat seats are equipped in business class, I will opt for business class. If not, I will fly first class. But most airlines now provide lie-flat seats in business class.

For short-haul journeys to places like Beijing, it is totally unnecessary to fly first class.

Q: Do you think this will put pressure on your colleagues like [your press secretary]?

A: If she proposes it, I will fly economy class along with her.

Pay level of political appointees

Q: After seeking consent from the Chief Executive-elect's office, the government has announced a salary freeze for principal officials in response to public opinion. However, some democrats say the pay of top officials should be cut. If there are growing voices for a pay cut, how would you respond?

A: After I assume the post in July, we will study a mechanism to decide the salary levels of top officials. There was only limited time before July and it was not the best timing to have a big exercise on the issue. I think a salary freeze is appropriate at the moment.

While we are deciding the salary level for main officials, we need to strike a balance between maintaining the attractiveness [of salaries] to recruit talent while catering to people's perceptions. Meanwhile, we also need to consider the salary gap between principal officials and senior civil servants. If there is a pay cut of 30 per cent for principal officials, will it affect the salaries of civil servants?

Q: You mentioned studying a mechanism to decide salary levels. Will this be different from the mechanism proposed by the incumbent government?

A: We will consider that later because there are a lot of issues to be dealt with in the coming few months. The mechanism proposed by the incumbent government was made by an independent committee. But how should we utilise that mechanism after July 1?

Whether it should be decided by the government solely, or by appointing another independent committee to study the issue? And what kind of criteria should we be considering in making the decision? We will need to study all these issues after I take office.

Political reform

Q: As you have mentioned before, one of the reasons many Hongkongers distrust the government is because they don't have a vote. Do you have any concrete plans or timetable for introducing universal suffrage?

A: I don't have an idea yet. I hope there will be more discussions in society. Learning from the lessons of the previous political reform [adopted in 2010].

We need to have more in-depth discussions - and not just of the number of nominations required to run in the chief executive election. We should also consider the threshold of votes needed to be elected through universal suffrage.

Do we need a simple majority to be elected? If so, we may need multiple rounds of election. If not a simple majority, how many votes required to be elected? Forty per cent or 30 per cent [of the total votes]? This issue is related to the number of candidates allowed to run in the election.

In the US and UK there are a few big political parties who field their own candidates - this not the case in Hong Kong. Therefore, the nomination threshold is not about a screening mechanism but about the mandate of the elected.

I am open to suggestions on all these issues and I believe they are worth discussing.

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