Following is a question by the Hon Chan Chi-chuen and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (December 18):
In October this year, the Director-General of the Department of Publicity, Culture and Sports Affairs of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (LOCPG) published an article in a local newspaper, claiming that the political system being implemented in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is an executive-led system, rather than one with separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers with checks and balances among one another. Moreover, according to the Basic Law, the Chief Executive is directly subordinate and accountable to the Central People's Government (CPG). Early last month, a commentary was published in another local newspaper, claiming that LOCPG would be derelict of its duty had it stood with folded arms in the incident of HKSAR Government's vetting and approval of domestic free television programme service licence applications, and that HKSAR should get used to LOCPG "acting to defend the executive-led system". In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it has studied the constitutional relationship of the legislature and courts at various levels with the executive authorities in HKSAR under the "one country, two systems" principle, as well as the powers of the legislature and courts in checking the executive authorities in deciding policies;
(b) whether it has studied if LOCPG has any power to participate in or interfere with the policy decisions of the executive authorities and legislature of HKSAR; if the study result is in the positive, of the details; and
(c) whether it will state publicly that, under the "one country, two systems" principle, the policy decisions made by the executive authorities and legislature of HKSAR on "the affairs" which HKSAR "administers on its own" in accordance with Article 22 of the Basic Law are not to be influenced by the organs of CPG in Hong Kong?
(a) Article 2 of the Basic Law clearly stipulates that the National People's Congress (NPC) authorises the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law.
Addressing the Third Session of the Seventh NPC on March 28, 1990, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee for the Basic Law Mr Ji Pengfei mentioned in the "Explanations on 'The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (Draft)' and Its Related Documents" (the Explanations) that "The political structure of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region should accord with the principle of 'one country, two systems' and aim to maintain stability and prosperity in Hong Kong in line with its legal status and actual situation. To this end, consideration must be given to the interests of the different sectors of society and the structure must facilitate the development of the capitalist economy in the Region. While the part of the existing political structure proven to be effective will be maintained, a democratic system that suits Hong Kong's reality should gradually be introduced". On the relationship between the executive authorities and the legislature, the Explanations state that "The executive authorities and the legislature should regulate each other as well as co-ordinate their activities. To maintain Hong Kong's stability and administrative efficiency, the Chief Executive must have real power which, at the same time, should be subject to some restrictions."
The political structure of the HKSAR is basically an executive-led structure headed by the Chief Executive (CE). According to Article 43 of the Basic Law, the CE of the HKSAR shall be the head of the HKSAR. According to Article 60 of the Basic Law, the CE is also the head of the HKSAR Government. According to the Basic Law, the CE leads the HKSAR Government; is responsible for the implementation of the Basic Law and other laws which, in accordance with the Basic Law, apply in the HKSAR; signs bills passed by the Legislative Council (LegCo) and promulgates laws; decides on government policies; appoints or removes judges of the courts at all levels in accordance with legal procedures; and approves the introduction of motions regarding revenues or expenditure to the LegCo, etc.
The respective functions and powers of and the related provisions governing the executive authorities, legislature and judiciary are set out in Sections 2, 3 and 4 of Chapter IV of the Basic Law.
(b) The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR is an organisation authorised by the Central People's Government (CPG) and performs functions in accordance with the authority conferred by the CPG, including liaising with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the HKSAR and the Hong Kong Garrison of the Chinese People's Liberation Army; promoting general exchange and co-operation between Hong Kong and the Mainland; liaising with various sectors of the community of Hong Kong to enhance exchanges between the Mainland and Hong Kong; and reflecting the views of Hong Kong residents on the Mainland, etc.
(c) Since the reunification, the offices set up by the CPG in the HKSAR and the HKSAR Government must adhere strictly to the basic principles and policies of "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy, as well as the provisions of the Basic Law, and abide by their own areas of responsibility in accordance with law.
Ends/Wednesday, December 18, 2013