Following is a question by the Hon Alan Leong and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (May 29):
Article 45 of the Basic Law provides that, in relation to the method for selecting the Chief Executive (CE), "[t]he 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"; and Article 68 provides that, concerning the method for forming the Legislative Council (LegCo), "[t]he ultimate aim is the election of all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage". In respect of the qualifications required of a person to be CE, the Chairman of the Law Committee of the National People's Congress said when he met some Members of LegCo on March 24 this year that a person who was against the Central Government would not be allowed to become CE and that CE had to "love the country and Hong Kong". Officials from the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as well as quite a number of members from the pro-establishment camp have quoted this comment of the Chairman for a number of times, and pointed out that persons not meeting the aforesaid qualification requirements are not allowed to become CE. On the other hand, some members of the public have demanded that the members of the nominating committee should be elected on a "one person, one vote" basis in 2017; and that in the LegCo election in 2016, the split voting system should be abolished and the number of seats for Functional Constituencies (FC) be reduced. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether the Government has studied if the aforesaid qualification requirements for CE have been provided for in the Basic Law, or if such qualification requirements override the Basic Law; if the outcome of the study is in the affirmative, of the legal basis; if the outcome of the study is in the negative, how the Government ensures that the comments relating to the aforesaid qualification requirements will not affect the constitutional reform proposal on election of CE by universal suffrage to be put forward by the Government according to the provisions in the Basic Law;
(b) whether the aforesaid qualification requirements for CE represent the Government's stance; if so, of the legal basis; if not, whether the Government will, pursuant to the aim of election of CE by universal suffrage under Article 45 of the Basic Law, put forward a proposal on the election of the members of the nominating committee on a "one person, one vote" basis, when it launches its consultation on the constitutional reform proposal regarding the election of CE in 2017; and
(c) whether it represents the Government's stance to adopt the objectives of abolishing the split voting system and reducing the number of seats for FC when drawing up the method for LegCo election in 2016; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Our reply to the questions raised by the Hon Leong is as follows:
(a) & (b) The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) will launch a comprehensive consultation for the electoral methods of the Chief Executive (CE) in 2017 and the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2016 at an appropriate juncture and initiate the constitutional procedures, strictly in accordance with the Basic Law and relevant interpretation and decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC).
The Basic Law stipulates the requirements on the qualifications, integrity and duties of the CE in the relevant provisions. For example, Article 44 stipulates that the CE shall be not less than 40 years of age, with no right of abode in any foreign country and has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 20 years; Article 47 stipulates that the CE must be a person of integrity, dedicated to his or her duties. Regarding the CE's duties, the Basic Law has even more detailed descriptions, for example, Article 43 provides that the CE shall be accountable to the Central People's Government (CPG) and the HKSAR; Article 48 mentions that the CE shall lead the Government of the HKSAR, be responsible for implementation of the Basic Law, implement the directives issued by the CPG in respect of the relevant matters provided for in the Basic Law, conduct, on behalf of the Government of the HKSAR, external affairs and other affairs as authorised by the Central Authorities, etc. Constitutionally, the CE, being the head of the HKSAR, has an important status, is elected in the HKSAR and appointed by the CPG, and accountable to the CPG and the HKSAR. It is therefore natural and legitimate for both the CPG and the HKSAR to have higher expectations towards candidates of the CE.
There have recently been different views and opinions from various sectors of the community on issues related to constitutional development, in particular the CE election, such as the composition of the nominating committee, procedures of nomination, the number of candidates to be nominated for the election, the electoral arrangement for one-person-one-vote, etc. The Government welcomes such rational and pragmatic discussions, as they will help us prepare for the public consultation to be conducted in the future. At this stage, the Government does not have any preconceived proposal. During the public consultation, the Government will listen carefully to the views and specific proposals on the subject from various sectors of the community. Needless to say, all proposals should be based on the Basic Law and relevant interpretation and decisions of the NPCSC; only on such a basis will it be possible to reach a consensus on constitutional development, to take forward the democracy of Hong Kong, and to implement the target of universal suffrage for the CE in 2017.
(c) As stipulated in Article 68 of the Basic Law, the LegCo of the HKSAR shall be constituted by election. The method for forming the LegCo shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the HKSAR and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress, and the ultimate aim is the election of all the members of the LegCo by universal suffrage. The Government will launch a comprehensive consultation on the electoral method of LegCo in 2016 at an appropriate juncture. At this stage, the Government does not have any preconceived proposal.
Ends/Wednesday, May 29, 2013