Lawmakers suspect a deal is in offing on constitutional reform Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan met mainland officials in a sudden trip to Beijing on Thursday in a visit that has been interpreted as a move to gauge the views of the central government on Hong Kong's constitutional development. News of his trip was only confirmed yesterday by the chief secretary's office after reports that Mr Hui had been seen boarding a plane to Beijing. Pro-democracy legislators called on him to explain to the public who he had met and what was discussed. They said the incident showed the city's constitutional reform was totally under the control of the central government and that Hong Kong people were not being heard. The chief secretary's spokeswoman said Mr Hui returned on the same day and that the trip was made because he had recently been appointed. 'He went there to meet relevant mainland officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs to discuss various issues relating to the Hong Kong SAR in general, and there's no set agenda,' she said, without elaborating further. The sudden cancellation of Mr Hui's appointments in Hong Kong that day also led to speculation that the trip had been hastily arranged. After taking up his post, Mr Hui became chairman of the government's constitutional development taskforce, which is responsible for proposing election arrangements for the chief executive in 2007 and the Legislative Council in 2008. News of his trip came amid debate over a plan for constitutional reform reportedly aimed at helping pro-government parties gain more seats in the legislature. Asked if she had recently visited Beijing to discuss the city's constitutional development, taskforce member Elsie Leung Oi-sie, the secretary for justice, said she would go if there were a need to do so. 'On questions surrounding constitutional development, we've exchanged views with mainland experts, local legal experts and legislators from time to time,' Miss Leung said yesterday. 'We will discuss the issue with the public at a suitable time.' Legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah, of the Article 45 Concern Group, said he believed Mr Hui's trip was made solely to discuss Hong Kong's constitutional development. 'Besides constitutional reform, what else does he need to talk about?' asked Mr Tong. He said he also believed the Hong Kong and central governments might have wanted to reach a deal soon to force the Hong Kong people 'either to accept the proposal or maintain the original arrangements'.