Following is a question by the Hon James To and a reply by the Acting Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (March 27):
It has been reported that recently some senior mainland officials have indicated that the Chief Executive (CE) is expected to be a person who "loves the country and Hong Kong", it must be ensured that "people who love the country and Hong Kong" to govern Hong Kong on a long-term basis, and screening is a must in the CE election in 2017. These comments have aroused wide concern in the Hong Kong community that a pre-selection mechanism will be put in place in the CE election in 2017 to thwart people with political views different from those of the central authorities becoming candidates for the election. On the other hand, Article 45 of the Basic Law provides that "[t]he method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures". In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) if it has studied (1) how the nominating committee should be formed and composed of in order to be regarded as "broadly representative", (2) pursuant to the requirement that the nomination must be made "in accordance with democratic procedures", whether such nomination must be made by voting or by a method similar to the past practice whereby anyone who has obtained nomination by a certain percentage of members of the nominating committee can become a candidate for the CE election, (3) whether the selection of CE by "universal suffrage" means that CE will be elected by Hong Kong people on a "one person, one vote" basis, and (4) whether there are differences between Hong Kong people and the mainland officials on the interpretation of Article 45 of the Basic Law;
(b) whether the authorities will introduce a "screening" mechanism when drawing up the nomination procedures for the CE election in 2017, so as to render people with different political views unable to become candidates; if they will, of the justifications; if not, the criteria for ensuring that the nomination procedures will not thwart people with different political views becoming candidates; and
(c) when the authorities will commence public consultation on the selection method for CE in 2017; whether they will consult members of the public if a "screening" mechanism should be included in the nomination procedures, and if the requirements for "broadly representative", "in accordance with democratic procedures" and "universal suffrage" provided in Article 45 of the Basic Law need to comply with the principle of universal and equal suffrage enshrined in international treaties on human rights?
Our reply to the questions raised by Hon To is as follows:
As set out in the "Decision on Issues Relating to the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive (CE) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and for Forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) of the HKSAR in the Year 2012 and on Issues Relating to Universal Suffrage" adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in December 2007 (the NPCSC's Decision), "in selecting the CE of the HKSAR by the method of universal suffrage, a broadly representative nominating committee shall be formed. The nominating committee may be formed with reference to the current provisions regarding the Election Committee in Annex I to the Hong Kong Basic Law. The nominating committee shall in accordance with democratic procedures nominate a certain number of candidates for the office of the CE, who is to be elected through universal suffrage by all registered electors of the HKSAR, and to be appointed by the Central People's Government".
The Government will carry out a comprehensive consultation on the nomination procedures and electoral arrangements for the CE to be returned by universal suffrage election strictly in accordance with the Basic Law and the NPCSC's Decision. At present, the Government does not have any pre-conceived position on these issues. The Government will listen carefully to the views expressed by various sectors of the community, including the LegCo, on these issues during the public consultation.
As mentioned by the CE in his 2013 Policy Address, the Government will launch a comprehensive consultation on the election methods of the CE in 2017 and the LegCo in 2016 and initiate the constitutional procedures at an appropriate juncture.
Ends/Wednesday, March 27, 2013