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LC: Speech by SCMA in moving the resumption of second reading of the Chief Executive Election (Amendment) Bill 2010

     Following is the speech (English translation) by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in moving the resumption of the second reading of the Chief Executive Election (Amendment) Bill 2010 in the Legislative Council on March 2:


     The Chief Executive Election (Amendment) Bill 2010 (the Bill) and the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2010 were introduced into the Legislative Council on December 15 last year and the Bills Committee has finished examination of the two bills. I would like to thank the Chairman of the Committee, the Hon Tam Yiu-chung, and Deputy Chairman, the Hon Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, and members for their hard work and valuable contributions.

Objectives and Contents of the Bill

     As I mentioned when the Bill was introduced, in respect of the electoral method for the selection of the Chief Executive (CE), the Election Committee (EC) will be expanded in accordance with the principle of balanced participation set out in the amendments to Annex I of the Basic Law. The number of members of the EC will be increased from 800 at present to 1,200 and the number of seats for each of the four sectors will be increased by 100.

The Government’s major proposals in the Bill include:

     (i) the number of seats allocated to the existing 32 subsectors in the first three sectors will be increased generally by proportion according to the existing distribution of seats;

     (ii) for the fourth sector, among the 100 new seats, 75 will be allocated to elected DC members, 10 seats to Legislative Council Members, 10 to members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and five to Heung Yee Kuk (HYK);

  (iii) the District Council (DC) subsectors will have 117 seats. The current arrangement of allocating the seats between the urban area and the New Territories will be continued in the subsectors and the current “bloc vote system” will be retained. Only elected DC members are eligible to be registered as voters and to nominate and to be nominated as candidates in the DC subsectors;

  (iv) from February 2010 when the new term of the EC commences, 10 “Special Member” seats will be created temporarily to make up the difference of 10 seats until the number of Legislative Council seats increases from 60 to 70 in October 2010. It is proposed that four seats of “Special Member” be allocated to members of the CPPCC, two to HYK, two to Hong Kong and Kowloon DCs subsector and two to New Territories DCs subsector; and

     (v) to tie in with the development of the registration system for the Chinese medicine practitioners (CMPs), it is proposed to allow Registered CMPs to register as voters in the Chinese Medicine Subsector.

     President, the above proposals will increase the participation in the EC election of individuals from different sectors of the community while sustaining the principle of balanced participation.

Deliberations by the Bills Committee

     In response to the proposals of the Bills Committee, we agreed to make some amendments to the Bill. I will propose the relevant amendments later on at the Committee Stage. Now, I would like to highlight the more important ones first.

Voting System of the CE Election

     To enhance the representativeness of the CE-elect, we have briefed Members on the proposed amendments concerning the voting system of the CE election at the meeting of the Bills Committee on January 29. After discussion at the Bills Committee, we now propose to amend the Chief Executive Election Ordinance, among other things, to stipulate that a candidate shall only be elected as the CE if the candidate obtains more than 600 valid votes in an election with one candidate only and a contested election.

Overseas Government Organisations

     There are views that overseas government organizations should not be eligible to be registered as electors of the Legislative Council Functional Constituencies (FC). We have proposed new provisions in the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2010 that the consular posts as set out in the Consular Relations Ordinance, and international organizations set out in the International Organizations (Privileges and Immunities) Ordinance and International Organizations and Diplomatic Privileges Ordinance are no longer eligible to be registered as corporate electors.

     As explained to Bills Committee Members, the above amendments to the Legislative Council Ordinance are also applicable to the EC subsectors with the same electorate as the corresponding FCs, such as Commercial (first) and Commercial (second) subsectors. The Government has also reviewed those subsectors which include corporate voters but do not have a corresponding FC or have an electorate different from that of the FC (i.e. Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association subsector, Employers’ Federation of Hong Kong subsector and Social Welfare subsector). In view of the nature of these subsectors, we consider that it is rather remote that an overseas government organization would participate in the election of these subsectors. Nevertheless, to cover all possibilities as far as possible in the law, we propose to add a new section in the Bill to provide expressly that overseas government organizations are not eligible to be registered as corporate voters in any EC subsector.

     President, in addition to the above amendments, the Administration has proposed some other amendments to address the change of name and some technical issues. The Bills Committee has examined these amendments and has no objection to these amendments.

Concluding Remarks

     This is the first time since the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR) that the electoral method for the CE is amended in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law so that democracy in Hong Kong can roll forward. After the Bill is passed, the EC will be increased from 800 to 1,200 members in line with the principle of gradual and orderly progress.  This will provide more room for members of the community to participate in the CE election.

     According to the decision adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC Decision) in 2007, the fifth CE in 2017 may be selected by universal suffrage. The NPCSC Decision also states that in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law, in selecting the CE by the method of universal suffrage, a broadly representative nominating committee shall be formed. The nominating committee may be formed with reference to the current provisions regarding the EC in Annex I to the Basic Law. The nominating committee shall in accordance with democratic procedures nominate a certain number of candidates for the Office of the CE, who is to be elected through universal suffrage by all registered electors of the HKSAR, and to be appointed by the Central People’s Government.

   We consider that the expansion of the EC from 800 to 1200 members under the Bill will help transform the EC to the nominating committee when universal suffrage for the CE is implemented in 2017. As regards the arrangements for universal suffrage of the CE in 2017, the fourth CE and the fifth term Legislative Council will need to work on them together in 2012-2017.

     President, I sincerely urge Members to support the Second Reading of the Bill and the amendments which I will propose at the Committee Stage. Following the completion of the Third Reading of the Bill, I will move to resume the Second Reading of the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2010.

Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, March 2, 2011