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CAB refutes any suggestion that HK's high degree of autonomy affected

In response to the "Letter to Hong Kong" by Professor Michael Davis, which was broadcast on RTHK Radio 3 today (July 25), a spokesman for the Constitutional Affairs Bureau strongly refuted any suggestion that Hong Kong SAR's high degree of autonomy had been affected.

He said, "The HKSAR Government's position on constitutional development has been clear all along, that is, we should move towards the ultimate aim of electing the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council by universal suffrage in a gradual and orderly manner and having due regard to the actual situation of Hong Kong as prescribed in the Basic Law.

"According to the relevant provisions in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Basic Law, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) has the power to interpret the Basic Law. The exercise of that power by the NPCSC is lawful and constitutional, and has in no way affected Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy or the rule of law," he said.

"Under the Basic Law, it has never been intended that Hong Kong can, on its own, decide on changes to its political structure.

"It is important to have a proper understanding of Hong Kong's constitutional order in any discussion on Hong Kong's political structure, including the methods to elect the Chief Executive (CE) and to form the Legislative Council (LegCo)," he said.

"The decision of the NPCSC was made having regard to the actual situation of Hong Kong, and in the overall interests of the community," he added.

The spokesman pointed out that in the light of the relevant provisions of the Basic Law and the decision of the NPCSC adopted on April 26, the Constitutional Development Task Force headed by the Chief Secretary for Administration published its Third Report on May 11.

The report set out the areas which might be considered for amendment in respect of the methods for the selection of the CE in 2007 and for forming the LegCo in 2008.

"The Task Force is in the process of garnering views and specific proposals from individuals and organisations in the community. In the autumn, the Task Force will consolidate the more representative views received and set them out in a further report for another round of public consultation," the spokesman said.

"There is plenty of room for us to contemplate changes to the election methods for selecting the CE and for forming the LegCo. The people of Hong Kong will continue to have an important role play in the process," the spokesman said.

On the upcoming LegCo election, the spokesman said that relevant Government bureaux and departments were working closely with the Electoral Affairs Commission to ensure that the election would be conducted smoothly and in an open and fair manner.

A large-scale publicity campaign had been launched to call on eligible persons to stand for election and to encourage registered electors to cast their votes on September 12 to elect candidates whom they could identify with.

Ends/Sunday, July 25, 2004