Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will attend a dinner hosted by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying tonight, in a possible attempt to demonstrate the government's willingness to listen to ideas on political reform.
The Journalists Association yesterday declined the invitation. It criticised the dinner for being "not transparent" enough, as attendees would be barred from quoting what officials said.
Leung's office responded that the confidentiality rule was consistent with past engagements.
It is believed Lam will be sitting down with people from across the political spectrum for the first time in recent months to discuss universal suffrage.
At a dinner Leung hosted last month, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen was the highest-ranking minister present. Former Democratic Party lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong, who attended the dinner, said Lam wanted to convince people the government valued public opinion. "The government is trying to show the public that [officials] are listening," he said. "But it is more of a gesture because … a dinner, after all, is not meant to hold focused and detailed discussion, or to reach a consensus on constitutional matters."
About 30 people are expected to show up at Government House. It will be the first time Leung comes face to face with a core organiser of Occupy Central: Chinese University sociologist Dr Chan Kin-man.
Also on the guest list is Chan's university colleague and political opponent Dr Chang Chak-yan, a political scientist who is a convenor of anti-Occupy Central group the Silent Majority for Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Tam is seeking the views of businesses on political reform. He met the Federation of Hong Kong Industries yesterday and will meet the General Chamber of Commerce today and the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce next month.
Pan-democrats have proposed "civil nomination", which would allow candidates who obtain a certain proportion of voters' nominations to contest the chief executive vote.
In an RTHK interview, Basic Law Committee member Albert Chen Hung-yee suggested that civil nomination was not against the Basic Law if it was the "first stage" of the nomination process.