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Chief Executive Election Bill to be introduced into the LegCo on March 14

The Government will introduce the Chief Executive (CE) Election Bill into the Legislative Council (LegCo) to provide the legislative framework for holding the CE Election.

"The Bill will be published in the Gazette on March 9, 2001 and will be presented to LegCo for first and second reading on March 14, 2001," a spokesman of the Constitutional Affairs Bureau said today (March 8).

The Bill is drafted in accordance with the guiding principles and relevant provisions of the Basic Law (BL) and the well-established principles and practices in Hong Kong's local elections.

"It provides for when and how a CE election is to be held as well as who is eligible to run and to vote at the CE election," the spokesman said.

"It also sets out the steps for lodging election petitions and judicial reviews which challenge whether the CE-elect is duly elected," the spokesman added.

The major features of the Bill are highlighted in the following paragraphs -

(i) Election Committee (EC)

The EC that was formed on 14 July 2000 and elected six Members to the second term LegCo in September 2000 is also responsible for electing the CE in 2002. This reflects the BL requirement that the ECs referred to in BL Annexes I and II are one and the same. It is proposed that an arrangement of holding by-elections or, in the case of the Religious Subsector, supplementary nomination to fill vacancies in the EC arising from death, resignation or ineligibility to be registered as LegCo Geographical Constituency electors.

(ii) Polling date

The polling date shall be determined by the CE and the Acting CE, as the case may be. In determining the polling date, the CE is subject to the restriction that the polling date must fall on a date within six months before the expiry of his term. In the event of vacancy in the office of the CE, the Acting CE shall appoint a polling date within six months after the vacancy arises.

(iii) Qualification and disqualification criteria for nomination

Persons meeting the eligibility requirements laid down in BL 44 in respect of age, nationality, right of abode and length of residence in Hong Kong may be nominated as a candidate for the CE election unless they -

(a) hold the office of the CE for two consecutive terms;

(b) are judicial officers or prescribed public officers (including civil servants);

(c) are bankrupt or mentally disordered;

(d) hold passports or travel documents other than the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) passport, the Certificate of Identity or entry permits issued by an authority in any part of the People's Republic of China; and

(e) have been convicted of offences in relation to disqualification from being elected currently provided for in the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) and the District Councils Ordinance (Cap. 547).

While LegCo Members are allowed to stand as a candidate at the CE election, a LegCo member is deemed to have resigned from LegCo on the date the Central People's Government appoints him as the CE to maintain the checks and balances of Hong Kong's constitutional order as enshrined in the BL.

For the first CE election held in late 1996, candidates were required to run in their own individual capacities. Furthermore, candidates who were members of political parties were required to resign from their political parties before they could run. Under the CE Election Bill, it is proposed that members of political parties should be allowed to run in the CE election provided they declare in the nomination that they stand in their individual capacity. However, if a member of a political party is elected, he must, within seven working days after his election, publicly makes a statutory declaration that he is not a member of any political party and undertakes in writing that, during his term of office, he will not become a member of any political party or be bound by the discipline of any political party. This is to ensure that the CE, when discharging his duties, will take into account the overall interest of the HKSAR instead of the interest of the political party to which he belongs.

(iv) Nomination

The nomination for the CE election should be made by at least 100 EC members and a candidate must declare on his nomination form that he will uphold the BL and will pledge allegiance to the HKSAR. These requirements are respectively proposed having regard to BL Annex I and BL 104. The requirement that a candidate must stand in his individual capacity has been explained in the paragraph above.

Within seven days after the close of nominations, the Returning Officer shall declare by notice in the Gazette the names of the validly nominated candidates and, for each of these candidates, the names of the EC members subscribing to his nomination form. It has been a well-established feature of LegCo and District Council (DC) elections that the names of the subscribers to candidates are made available for public inspection. In view of the need to maintain transparency and the importance of the CE election, it is proposed that, in addition to public inspection, the Returning Officer should also publish the subscribers' names in the Gazette.

(v) Withdrawal of candidature

A candidate may withdraw from the election on or before the working day immediately before the polling date. The CE election will continue despite the withdrawal of candidates.

(vi) Election petitions

Like LegCo and DC elections, there will be a dedicated legal avenue for election petitions. As timing is critical for the CE election, all election petitions must be lodged within seven working days after the declaration of the election result. While election petitions will first be heard by the Court of First Instance, appeal may be made against its ruling to the Court of Final Appeal direct, subject to the granting of leave by the Appeal Committee of the Court of Final Appeal. Similarly, judicial review which puts in issue whether the CE elect is duly elected must be lodged within 30 days after the publication of election result.

End/Thursday, March 8, 2001