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LCQ5: Constitutional development

     Following is a question by the Hon Wu Chi-wai and a reply by the Acting Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (June 24):


     It has been reported that the Head of the Central Policy Unit had earlier pointed out that if the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage was implemented in 2017, dissension within society might be intensified, while the Chief Secretary for Administration commented that if the constitutional reform proposals were negatived by this Council, dissension within society would continue. According to what they said, dissension within Hong Kong society is inevitable after the voting on the constitutional reform proposals by this Council. Moreover, when exchanging views on constitutional reform with Members of this Council in Shenzhen on the 31st of last month, the Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said that members from the pan-democratic camp could be grouped into two categories, one of which being not only "the opposition", but also "the uncompromising faction" or "the obstinate faction". The stance of the Central Authorities was to resolutely fight against this category of people. When asked by the media if the Government would also fight against "the uncompromising faction", the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs (the Secretary) said that "[I] do not quite grasp the subtlety of it". The Secretary also does not support the establishment of a new platform to serve as a normal communication channel with the pan-democratic camp for resolving the constitutional reform issues. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether measures are in place to resolve dissension within society; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) whether it has assessed if the remarks on fighting given by the aforesaid official of the Central Authorities will intensify dissension within Hong Kong society; if the assessment outcome is in the affirmative, whether the Secretary, who has not quite grasped the subtlety of the matter, will carry out the instructions on fighting given by the officials of the Central Authorities; if he will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) of the reasons for the Government not supporting the establishment of the aforesaid platform; whether it has assessed if the establishment of such a platform can help resolve the constitutional reform issues and the problem of dissension within society; if the assessment outcome is in the affirmative, of the details; if the assessment outcome is in the negative, the reasons for that?


Acting President,

     Our reply to the questions raised by the Hon Wu is as follows.

     With 28 Members voting against, the motion to amend Annex I to the Basic Law concerning the method for the selection of the Chief Executive moved at the Legislative Council (LegCo) by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government was vetoed at the LegCo meeting on June 18, 2015. There are analyses suggesting that the core issue was certain Members' unwillingness to understand the constitutional role and power of the Central Authorities under "One Country, Two Systems", and refusal to accept that the political system expounded in the Basic Law is based on the principle of an executive-led system. After 20 months of highly politicised and polarised debate, the HKSAR Government considers that, following the veto of the constitutional development proposals, the community needs time to calm down, put the arguments aside, and start afresh; so that we may focus on handling well various economic development, social, and livelihood issues that would benefit the public.

     The HKSAR Government hopes that, when handling various imperative social issues and rising to all sorts of challenges for Hong Kong, different parties and groups should set aside their own views and adopt a pragmatic and understanding approach; and through enhancing communication and rebuilding mutual trust, work together in handling various issues in the community.

     The HKSAR Government considers that the Hong Kong community has already had extensive, in-depth, and heated discussions on constitutional development for a period of time. There have also been certain irrational and even extreme behaviours that aggravated differences among people. In the coming two years, we have to conduct four public elections. It is our primary objective and task to ensure that the four elections are held in an open, fair, and honest manner. Apart from that, we will not and cannot restart the "Five-step Process" of constitutional development. We also do not have any plan to set up a platform to discuss constitutional development.

Ends/Wednesday, June 24, 2015