Following is a question by the Hon Kam Nai-wai and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (January 18):
It has been learnt that some people who had worked in the party apparatus on the Mainland have successfully been re-elected or elected as members of the Fourth Term District Council, and some members of the public suspect that they are members of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Since the reunification of Hong Kong, mainland officials are required to obtain "Exit-entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macau for Official Purposes" (the Permit) if they are posted to work in Hong Kong in their official capacity. In 2002, the Legislative Council passed the Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2001 to exclude those mainland officials from being treated as ordinarily resident in Hong Kong during the period for which they worked in Hong Kong in their official capacity. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) if it has assessed whether these people, who worked in the party apparatus on the Mainland and are suspected to be members of CPC, have become members of the second governing team in Hong Kong after being elected into the councils, and whether such a situation causes interference in Hong Kong's internal affairs and damage to the principles of "One Country, Two Systems", "a high degree of autonomy" and "Hong Kong People ruling Hong Kong"; if it has assessed, of the details; if it has not, the reasons for that;
(b) in view of the principles of "One Country, Two Systems", "a high degree of autonomy" and "Hong Kong People ruling Hong Kong", whether it will consider requiring any Hong Kong permanent resident who is a member of CPC to disclose to the electorate his/her affiliation with political parties when standing in the elections in various councils and of the Chief Executive, including whether he/she is a member of CPC; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(c) of the numbers of mainland officials staying in Hong Kong with the Permit and the respective numbers of those mainland officials holding such document who worked in the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong and the People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison in each year from the date of unification of Hong Kong to December 31 of last year, together with a table setting out such information; whether it has assessed and discussed with the Central Authorities if the confidence in "One Country, Two Systems", "a high degree of autonomy" and "Hong Kong People ruling Hong Kong" among members of the public will be undermined when such officials apply through other means to become Hong Kong permanent residents after returning to the Mainland; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Our reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:
(a) Since the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the Central Government has been acting strictly in accordance with the fundamental policies of "One Country, Two Systems", "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" and "a high degree of autonomy" and the provisions of the Basic Law, and supporting the HKSAR Government in administering Hong Kong in accordance with the law, with a view to maintaining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.
As regards the elections of the Legislative Council (LegCo) and District Councils (DCs), section 37 of the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap 542) and section 20(1) of the District Councils Ordinance (Cap 547) provide that a person is qualified to be nominated as a candidate for a LegCo or DC election only if, inter alia, the person is a permanent resident of the HKSAR. All LegCo and DC elections have been conducted strictly in accordance with the relevant law and regulations, and all candidates must meet the relevant statutory requirements.
(b) At present, the candidates for LegCo or DC elections are given an option as to whether to fill in their political affiliations on the nomination forms and the Introduction to Candidates published by the Registration and Electoral Office. In addition, the Particulars Relating to Candidates on Ballot Papers (Legislative Council and District Councils) Regulation (Cap 541M) provides that candidates may request the Electoral Affairs Commission to print particulars relating to them on ballot papers, including the registered emblem and name (or abbreviation) of a prescribed political body or a prescribed non-political body, or the registered emblem of a prescribed person and/or the words "Independent Candidate" or "Non-affiliated Candidate".
There is no requirement in the relevant law that candidates must disclose their political affiliations on the Introduction to Candidates or ballot papers.
As regards the Chief Executive (CE) election, under the current law, candidates are not required to disclose their political affiliations. However, section 31 of the Chief Executive Election Ordinance (Cap 569) stipulates that a person who has been declared as elected at a CE election must make a statutory declaration to the effect that he or she is not a member of any political party.
We believe the current practice is appropriate and the government of the current term has no plan to introduce any change to the relevant requirements. We would continue to ensure that all public elections are conducted in an open, fair and honest manner in accordance with the law.
(c) In the past three years (ie 2009-2011), the number of first arrivals holding "Chinese Travel Permit" were 8,579, 7,259 and 7,432 respectively. The figures do not include members of the Hong Kong Garrison of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The Immigration Department does not maintain categorised statistics on the number of holders of "Chinese Travel Permit" working in the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the HKSAR or Chinese enterprises which have been set up in Hong Kong with the approval of the Mainland authorities.
The Immigration Department processes applications for verification of eligibility for permanent identity card in accordance with the requirements under the Immigration Ordinance (Cap 115). Under section 2(4)(a)(ix) of the Ordinance, a person shall not be treated as ordinarily resident in Hong Kong during any period in which he remains in Hong Kong as a holder of a prescribed Central People's Government travel document (ie a travel permit issued by the Central People's Government printed with the title "Chinese Travel Permit" on its cover in simplified Chinese characters and bears an endorsement stating that the permit holder is a public officer and assigned to work in the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao.) As a result, the aforesaid persons do not satisfy the requirements of Hong Kong Permanent Resident as set out in section 2(b) of Schedule 1 of the Ordinance.
Ends/Wednesday, January 18, 2012