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LCQ5: Basic Law does not provide for any referendum mechanism

     Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (February 3):


     On the 15th of last month, a spokesperson of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said: "Recently, individual social groups in Hong Kong have announced that they would conduct a 'five geographical constituencies referendum campaign' under the theme of 'implementation of genuine universal suffrage and abolition of functional constituencies as soon as possible'. We express grave concern about this." The spokesperson also commented: "Conducting such so called 'referendum' in any form in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in respect of its future constitutional development does not conform with the legal status of HKSAR. It is also a fundamental contravention of the Basic Law of HKSAR and the relevant decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress". In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:

(a) whether they have made enquiries with the Central Government and conducted any study locally on which provisions in the Basic Law the de facto referendum campaign promoted by the civic community has contravened; if they have, of the details;

(b) given that the Basic Law does not prohibit civic referendum activities whereas the Central Government considers the aforesaid activity a contravention of the Basic Law, whether they have studied if activities not stipulated as legal under the Basic Law are all illegal; if such a study has been conducted, of the outcome; and of the criteria adopted by the authorities for determining whether an activity contravenes the Basic Law; and

(c) what measures the SAR Government will take in response to the Central Government's comment that the aforesaid referendum activity has contravened the Basic Law?



(a) Under "One Country, Two Systems", the HKSAR must comply with the provisions of the Basic Law. Conducting a so-called "referendum" on the issue of constitutional development is not consistent with the provisions relating to amendments to the electoral methods for the Chief Executive (CE) and the Legislative Council (LegCo) in the Basic Law and the interpretation and decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC).

(b) The Basic Law does not provide for any "referendum" mechanism. As a local administrative region of the People's Republic of China, the HKSAR has no authority to determine or change its political structure on its own, or to create a "referendum" mechanism.

(c) The Basic Law does not provide for any "referendum" mechanism. Conducting any form of so-called "referendum" in Hong Kong will have no legal basis or effect whatsoever, and will not be recognised by the HKSAR Government.

     The HKSAR Government will only act in accordance with the procedures as stipulated in the Basic Law regarding amendments to the electoral methods for the CE and the LegCo for 2012, and secure consensus among the three parties concerned, i.e. the proposals put forth by the HKSAR Government must obtain the support of a two-thirds majority of all LegCo Members, consent of the CE and endorsement of the NPCSC. The procedures for amending the two electoral methods for 2012 will not be affected by the results of the by-election following the resignations of the five LegCo Members.

Ends/Wednesday, February 3, 2010