Following is a question by the Hon Albert Ho and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 9):
The Executive Authorities will soon present the motions on the methods for selecting the Chief Executive (CE) and for forming the Legislative Council in 2012 to this Council for voting. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council whether they have assessed, in the event that the motions are negatived, if CE needs to:
(a) take the blame and resign to shoulder the political responsibility; or
(b) dissolve this Council under Article 50 of the Basic Law; if the assessment outcome is that there is no need to dissolve this Council, of the reasons for that?
(a) In accordance with the Basic Law, the Chief Executive (CE) and the Members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) both have the constitutional responsibility to deal with Hong Kong's constitutional development.
The CE has, within six months after assuming office in 2007, secured a clear timetable for universal suffrage for Hong Kong: universal suffrage may be implemented for the CE in 2017 and for the LegCo in 2020.
In order to further democratise the two elections in 2012 and pave the way for implementing universal suffrage, the HKSAR Government has put forth a package which will enhance the democratic elements of the two elections. The proposed package has responded to the reasons for which the pan-democratic Members vetoed the proposed package in 2005 by proposing that only elected District Council Members who are returned by one-person-one-vote should participate in the election of the District Council (DC) seats in the two elections, and that for the LegCo election, aside from increasing five geographical constituency seats, all five new functional constituency seats will be returned through election from among elected DC members. Close to 60 per cent of all seats in the 2012 LegCo will be returned through geographical direct or indirect elections. Under the framework of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) decision of 2007, we have already strived for maximum latitude in putting forth such a package.
We believe that the general public will see that the CE and the HKSAR Government have strived to balance the aspirations of different sectors of society and the LegCo, and have put forth a package that is generally accepted by the public and political parties and groups of the LegCo. We will continue to make our best endeavours to obtain the support of LegCo Members for the proposed package, so as to avoid another stalemate in constitutional development.
Regardless as to whether the proposed package is eventually endorsed by the LegCo, we believe that the public will appreciate the efforts made by the CE and the HKSAR Government in rolling forward democracy.
(b) The consistent position of the HKSAR Government is that the concept of "important bill" under Article 50 of the Basic Law only applies to local legislation.
Amendments to the methods for selecting the CE and for forming the LegCo are, by nature, amendments to the provisions of Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law. This is part of the constitutional arrangements and should not be regarded as amendment to local legislation. The amendments to the electoral system will be given legislative effect only after they have received the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all LegCo Members, the consent of CE, and have been reported to the NPCSC for approval or for the record.
In other words, Article 50 of the Basic Law does not authorise the Chief Executive to dissolve the LegCo in the event that the constitutional reform package is not passed.
Ends/Wednesday, June 9, 2010