In response to media enquiries, a Government spokesman responded today (November 11) to comments in the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2008 Annual Report relating to Hong Kong.
"The Commission's report is inaccurate in its observation on Hong Kong's constitutional development that the Central Government continued to obstruct progress towards universal suffrage as promised in the Basic Law. The decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) on December 29, 2007, made clear the timetable for attaining universal suffrage. According to the decision, the Chief Executive (CE) may be elected by universal suffrage in 2017 and, after the CE has been elected by universal suffrage, all members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) may be elected by universal suffrage in 2020. This carries most important significance for Hong Kong's constitutional development.
According to the NPCSC's decision, while universal suffrage is not to be implemented in 2012, appropriate amendments consistent with the principle of gradual and orderly progress may be made to the methods for electing the CE and LegCo.
The NPCSC's decision has a broad basis in public support. Half of all LegCo members support that universal suffrage for the CE should be implemented first by no later than 2017, in 2017 or after 2017, and that universal suffrage for LegCo should follow thereafter; such motions have been passed in more than two-thirds of all District Councils; about 60% of the public accepted implementation of universal suffrage for the CE in 2017, if this cannot be attained in 2012.
As reflected in opinion polls, the decision is well received by the community. According to the poll conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong in January, over 70% of the public accept the NPCSC's decision.
Regarding the implementation of universal suffrage for the CE and LegCo, the HKSAR Government has not formed any views on the future universal suffrage models. In attaining universal suffrage, the HKSAR Government would ensure that the universal suffrage models for the CE and LegCo could comply with the principles of universal and equal suffrage, and would strive to forge consensus within the Hong Kong community on how to further democratise the two electoral methods for 2012.
We will consult the public on the possible options for the two electoral methods for 2012 within the first half of 2009. Our aim is to determine the two electoral methods for 2012 within the tenure of the third-term HKSAR Government. This could then lay a solid foundation for attaining universal suffrage for the CE in 2017, and for LegCo in 2020.
The implementation of universal suffrage according to the Basic Law is part of our internal affairs. This is a matter for the HKSAR and the Central Authorities to deal with according to the Basic Law. We hope and believe that foreign governments and legislatures will continue to respect this principle.
The HKSAR enjoys a high degree of autonomy under the Basic Law. In common with other immigration authorities around the world, the Immigration Department is responsible for upholding effective immigration control to safeguard the public interest of Hong Kong, including by way of handling all entry applications in accordance with the law.
The Basic Law protects the basic rights of our citizens. The HKSAR also has its law governing public meetings and processions. During the Olympic Games, the Police endeavoured to facilitate all lawful and peaceful public order events. In doing so, they sought to strike a balance between respecting the freedoms of expression and assembly of the demonstrators, and the need to ensure that no danger or undue inconvenience is caused to other members of the public."
Ends/Tuesday, November 11, 2008