|LCQ19: Election of the Chief Executive and all Members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage
Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 20):
When he attended radio programmes on several occasions recently, the Convenor of the Executive Council said that the Central Authorities had the substantive power to appoint the Chief Executive ("CE"), and hence the design of a model for selecting CE by universal suffrage had to ensure that the person elected was a person whom the Central Authorities were willing to appoint; otherwise, there would be a constitutional crisis. He further commented that the issue of selection of CE by universal suffrage was even more complicated and difficult than that of election of all members of the Legislative Council ("LegCo") by universal suffrage. It has also been reported that the Central Authorities expect to have "prior communication" with Hong Kong in respect of the selection of CE by universal suffrage in the future, and the nomination of CE candidates by the nominating committee must be its "nomination as a whole", as such arrangements can ensure that the CE to be selected by universal suffrage will be a person whom the Central Authorities are pleased to appoint. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
(a) whether they have assessed the likelihood of a constitutional crisis triggered by a CE selected by universal suffrage being not appointed by the Central Authorities, and of the ways to deal with such a situation;
(b) whether the Committee on Governance and Political Development of the Commission on Strategic Development ("CSD") has discussed the arrangements for "prior communication" and "nomination as a whole"; and whether it has assessed if these arrangements are consistent with the relevant provisions of the Basic Law; and
(c) as many members of CSD have proposed to adopt the approach of "resolving the simple issues before the difficult ones", i.e. issues relating to the selection of CE by universal suffrage, which are comparatively simple, should be resolved first before issues relating to the election of all members of LegCo by universal suffrage should be addressed, will the authorities act in accordance with such a proposal; if not, of the reasons for that?
(a) & (b) In accordance with Article 45 of the Basic Law, there are three stages for electing the CE by universal suffrage:
(1) nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures;
(2) election of the CE by universal suffrage upon nomination; and
(3) the CE elected from universal suffrage shall be appointed by the Central People's Government.
The key issues that need to be further discussed by the Commission on Strategic Development (the Commission) and the community cover two aspects:
(1) how to form a broadly representative nominating committee: for example, what the size of the nominating committee should be, and how its composition could represent different sectors and strata;
(2) how to nominate CE candidates in accordance with democratic procedures: for example, what the level of nomination threshold should be, and how the nominating committee should operate.
The Commission will further discuss these issues at its meeting on June 21. The position of HKSAR Government is that the model for electing the CE by universal suffrage must comply with the provisions of the Basic Law and that aside from provisions in the Basic Law, other conditions should not be prescribed. Both the Central Authorities and the HKSAR Government will deal with the issue in accordance with the Basic Law.
(c) Quite a number of members of the Commission agree that consideration should be given to the direction of "resolving the simple issues before the difficult ones" in taking forward constitutional development, and that universal suffrage for the CE should precede that for LegCo. The HKSAR Government has not taken a position on this issue.
The HKSAR Government certainly hope that different sectors of the community can reach consensus on both methods for implementing universal suffrage for the CE and LegCo. However, the fact is that the main issues that need to be tackled relating to implementing universal suffrage for the CE, mainly the composition of the nominating committee and the nomination mechanism, are less complicated. However, regarding the formation of LegCo by universal suffrage, since the Commission and different sectors of the community still have significant differences on how to handle the functional constituencies, it may be difficult for the community to achieve consensus in the short term.
Notwithstanding this, the HKSAR Government will publish by mid-2007 a green paper on constitutional development. This will set out all universal suffrage options (which are consistent with the Basic Law) for electing the CE and for forming LegCo put forth by different political parties, organisations and individuals. This will enable the Hong Kong community and the public to engage further and wider discussions on the related issues.
Ends/Wednesday, June 20, 2007