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LCQ16: HKSAR affairs handled according to Basic Law

Following is a question by Hon Emily Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose Lee (in the absence of Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam), in the Legislative Council today (June 7):


It has been reported that the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (SCA) released, immediately after a meeting with officials of the Central Authorities in Beijing last month, to the media a discussion paper for the Committee on Governance and Political Development under the Commission on Strategic Development. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:

(a) whether the SCA discussed the contents of the aforesaid paper with officials of the Central Authorities during his visit to Beijing; if so, of the reasons for that, and whether the authorities have assessed if such an action is detrimental to the implementation of "One Country, Two Systems", "a high degree of autonomy" and "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" in the territory; and

(b) of the policies which the authorities had discussed with officials of the Central Authorities before announcing them in the past; as well as the details of and the reasons for such discussions?


Madam President,

(a) At the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs visited the Mainland from May 21 to 25, 2006. The visit was conducted under the established arrangement of reciprocal visits between the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enhance communication and mutual understanding.

Regarding the paper for the meeting of the Committee on Governance and Political Development of the Commission on Strategic Development (CSD) on May 26, as pointed out by SCA to the Hong Kong media during his visit to Beijing, the Government of the HKSAR had not mentioned the contents of the paper to officials of the Mainland authorities before it was issued by the CSD Secretariat.

(b) The high degree of autonomy enjoyed by the HKSAR is conferred by the National People's Congress through the Basic Law in accordance with the Constitution. The Government of the HKSAR has been handling affairs of the HKSAR according to the provisions of the Basic Law.

The establishment of the HKSAR and the design of its political system have been determined by the Central Authorities in accordance with the Constitution through the enactment of the Basic Law. Thus, the Central Authorities have the constitutional powers and responsibilities to oversee and determine the constitutional development of the HKSAR. According to Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law, if there is a need to amend the two Annexes to change the relevant electoral methods, such amendments must be made with the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all the members of Legislative Council (LegCo) and the consent of the Chief Executive (CE), and they shall be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for approval or for the record.

At present, issues relating to constitutional development of the HKSAR are being discussed by the CSD within Hong Kong. The Committee on Governance and Political Development of the CSD has just concluded discussions on the principles and concepts relating to universal suffrage at its meeting last month. It will proceed to discuss possible models for electing the CE and the LegCo by universal suffrage. The aim of the CSD is to conclude discussions by early next year. The conclusions on the discussions can provide a basis for us to commence our next stage of work. We will also reflect the conclusions to the Central Authorities.

Ends/Wednesday, June 7, 2006