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HKSAR Government refutes Human Rights Watch Report

In response to a Human Rights Watch Report released yesterday, a government spokesman said today (January 14):

"Allegations contained in the Human Rights Watch report relating to Hong Kong are groundless, with complete disregard of fundamental facts.

"Since reunification, the Central Authorities have adhered to their commitment of letting Hong Kong people run Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the Basic Law.

"Time and again, national leaders have expressed their firm commitment to ensuring that this remains the case.

"On Hong Kong's constitutional development, the HKSAR Government is committed to further opening up the methods for selecting the Chief Executive (CE) in 2007 and forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2008.

"In making the interpretation and decision in April, 2004, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) was duly exercising the powers vested upon it by the PRC Constitution and the Basic Law.

"By constitutional design, the Central Authorities have the responsibilities and power to oversee Hong Kong's constitutional development.

"It has never been the intention of 'One Country, Two Systems' that Hong Kong can, on its own, introduce changes to its electoral arrangements beyond 2007.

"For changes to be made to the electoral arrangements after 2007, the Basic Law has prescribed a tripartite mechanism whereby approval from two-thirds LegCo Members, the CE and the Central Authorities is needed.

"Before making its decision in April, 2004, the NPCSC has considered thoroughly the wide spectrum of views collected by the Constitutional Development Task Force from the Hong Kong community.

"Senior officials from the NPCSC have also met representatives of different sectors and strata to listen to their views.

"While some people in Hong Kong support universal suffrage in 2007 and 2008, there are others who consider that constitutional development should proceed in a gradual and orderly manner.

"Now that the NPCSC has clarified the scope for changes for 2007 and 2008, we should make best use of the room available to broaden the scope for public participation in the elections and to enhance the representativeness of the two electoral systems, narrowing the distance between the existing arrangements and the ultimate aim of universal suffrage.

"The Task Force will continue to actively engage the Hong Kong community to build consensus on the way forward along these directions.

"The doubts raised in the report about the 2004 LegCo election are also unfounded.

"The fact that the election recorded a historic turnout of 54% represents a strong vote of confidence by Hong Kong people in the integrity of the electoral arrangements.

"The community has widely accepted that the election was held in an open, fair and honest manner."

Ends/Friday, January 14, 2005