"Since 1997, successive terms of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government have promoted Hong Kong's developments across the board positively. Under the Basic Law, the Chief Executive has ample scope to work in the interest of the people of Hong Kong and to govern the HKSAR effectively.
"Firstly, the HKSAR Government has a high degree of autonomy to set its own policies on social, economic and livelihood matters. It has also accumulated significant fiscal and foreign exchange reserves which, under the Basic Law, the HKSAR Government can deploy at its discretion.
"Secondly, under 'One Country, Two Systems', the HKSAR Government has also been authorised to deal with a wide range of external affairs. Hong Kong has retained its membership of the WTO and APEC. With this autonomy, we can enter into free trade arrangements, air services agreements and other bilateral arrangements with foreign governments to promote Hong Kong's economic growth.
"Thirdly, the Central Government has been very supportive of enabling regional cooperation between Hong Kong and the Mainland. With the introduction of CEPA since 2003, Hong Kong has benefitted significantly. In tourism alone, nearly 30 million people visited Hong Kong in 2009, about 60 per cent of whom came from the Mainland. Such developments will continue.
"Fourthly, in accordance with the Basic Law, we have already established a universal suffrage timetable. We can implement universal suffrage for the Chief Executive in 2017 and for the Legislative Council in 2020. We have also attained consensus for the 2012 Chief Executive and Legislative Council elections. With the introduction of the 'one person, two votes' arrangement in 2012, all registered voters will have one vote in geographical constituency election and another vote in functional constituency election. The fourth-term Chief Executive elected in 2012 will be returned by a 1,200-member Election Committee broadly representative of the commercial, professional, social and political sectors. Thus, he will be able to lead the Hong Kong community in implementing universal suffrage for the Chief Executive in 2017 with the broad support of different sectors of Hong Kong society."
Ends/Sunday, November 21, 2010