|Constitutional powers and responsibilities of Central Authorities in overseeing constitutional development not limited to Basic Law
The Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Mr Stephen Lam stressed that the Central Authorities had powers and responsibilities under the Chinese Constitution in overseeing the development of the political structure of Hong Kong, and that the powers and roles of the Central Authorities in this respect were not limited to those specified in Annexes I and II of the Basic Law.
The Legislative Council (LegCo) Members today (March 17) debated the motion raised by the Honourable James To regarding constitutional development. Mr Lam made the above remarks while responding to Mr To's motion.
Mr Lam said, "The Chinese Constitution provides the legal foundations for the nation and holds legal effect of the highest order. It symbolises national sovereignty. The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) provides in the preamble that it was enacted in accordance with the Constitution of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The National People's Congress (NPC) established the HKSAR and decided on the systems of the HKSAR in accordance with Articles 31 and 62 of the Constitution respectively."
He said, "In enacting the Basic Law, the NPC prescribed the systems to be practised in Hong Kong. This set of systems included the political structure of Hong Kong. As the systems to be practised in Hong Kong, including the political structure, were determined by the Central Authorities in accordance with the Constitution, the Central Authorities clearly have powers and responsibilities in overseeing the development of the political structure of Hong Kong under the Constitution. The powers and roles of the Central Authorities in this respect are not limited to those specified in Annexes I and II of the Basic Law."
Responding to the concerns of some Members on whether there was duplication of efforts between the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Research Institute set up by the relevant departments of the Central Authorities and the Constitutional Development Task Force of the SAR Government, Mr Lam said, "The establishment of the Institute underlines the importance which the Central Authorities attach to the future development of Hong Kong. As the Central Authorities care much about Hong Kong's developments, it is very natural that they would wish to conduct research through different channels. However, if there is any need to follow up on the issue of constitutional development within Hong Kong, it will still be up to the SAR Government to take the matter forward."
As regards the question of whether it was appropriate for individual LegCo Members to go abroad to attend the hearing of a foreign legislature and to give evidence on the constitutional development of Hong Kong, Mr Lam said, "The SAR Government has made clear the position that the constitutional development of Hong Kong is part of the internal affairs of our country. The Central Authorities and the SAR will address this issue in accordance with the principles and provisions of this Basic Law."
Mr Lam said, "As in the case of Principal Officials, when assuming office, LegCo Members must swear to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the HKSAR of the PRC. We have difficulty in understanding why LegCo Members should appear before a foreign legislature and give evidence on a matter which falls within our internal affairs. We consider their decision to do so to be inappropriate."
Ends/Wednesday, March 17, 2004