The release of the government paper and the visit of two mainland legal experts to Hong Kong this week is an indication the public is being considered in the debate on constitutional reform, albeit possibly in a low-key way. This is despite both Hong Kong and Beijing officials saying nothing would be finalised on democratic development until the relevant mainland departments are consulted. By publishing an outline of the key issues and matters of principle relating to the review before formal talks with Beijing begin, the taskforce headed by Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen hopes to convince the community there are genuine political and legal issues involved. This will help counter criticism that the government and Beijing have colluded to delay the review until after the next Legislative Council election. At a time when the public's trust in the government is low, Mr Tsang is well aware he is walking a tightrope between different expectations in Hong Kong and the mainland about the pace of democratic development. Although he has not called it a formal consultation, Mr Tsang has invited views from interest groups and the community at large to engage people in the process and involve them in the early stages. The two mainland legal experts who arrive in Hong Kong today are due to address a forum of lawyers, academics and politicians tomorrow. Although Mr Tsang has said their views do not represent those of the central government they are expected to shed light on key issues relating to the Basic Law and possible political reform. If Beijing has shown a tough hand in asserting its final say on the issue over the past few months, it now seems to realise it is equally important to forge a dialogue with the people of Hong Kong. Subtly drawing Hong Kong people into the consultation can only help Hong Kong and Beijing officials define the agenda and manage the process, thus helping to foster rational and calm debate ahead of the hard decisions that have to be made about how the next chief executive and legislature will be elected.