|Understanding of HK's constitutional order important in discussion of constitutional development
In response to the "Letter to Hong Kong" by Dr Michael DeGolyer, which was broadcast on RTHK Radio 3 today (August 1), a Government spokesman said that it was important to have a proper understanding of Hong Kong SAR'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, "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 that the methods for electing the CE and for forming the LegCo concerned Hong Kong's political structure. The design of the political structure was relevant to giving effect to the exercise of sovereignty, as well as the implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" and the basic policies of the Central Authorities.
"Under the Basic Law, it has never been intended that Hong Kong can, on its own, decide on changes to its political structure," 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 HKSAR Government's position on constitutional development has been clear all along, that is, we should move towards the ultimate aim of electing the CE and the LegCo 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."
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 spokesman said that 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 to play in the process," he said.
"In a society as highly diversified as Hong Kong where people would have different views, one would have to accommodate one another's views to facilitate the emergence of an option that would receive broad-based support within the community," he added.
On the Accountability System, which was introduced in 2002, the spokesman said that the system allowed the CE to form a governing team of his own choice.
"Under the new system, there is a political team responsible for the governance of the HKSAR. Political appointees have borne the brunt of political and public pressures, while senior civil servants can be left to play their role impartially and professionally. If we do not have a senior political team in place, the impact of recent political incidents on the civil service system would have been very serious," he said.
On law and order, the spokesman stressed that Hong Kong remained one of the safest cities in the world. The Police had the determination and capabilities to uphold the rule of law in Hong Kong.
Ends/Sunday, August 1, 2004