LCQ18: Eligibility of US green card holders for candidature in LegCo elections
Following is a question by the Hon Albert Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (October 29):
I have received complaints alleging that a person holding a Green Card issued by the United States ("US") Government participating in the 2000 Legislative Council ("LegCo") Election might have contravened section 37 of the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542), which stipulates that at a LegCo election, except for elections regarding the 12 specified functional constituencies (the same exception applies below), a candidate must have "no right of abode in any country other than the People's Republic of China". For this matter, I have made several enquiries with the Department of Justice ("D of J"), asking whether holding a Green Card issued by the United States is equivalent to having the right of abode in a foreign country, thereby rendering the holder ineligible for candidature in LegCo elections. However, the Secretary for Justice has refused to answer my enquiry on grounds that giving legal advice to individuals is not a major function of the Department. In this connection, will the Government:
(a) inform this Council of the reasons other than that given above for the D of J to refuse to answer my enquiry about whether holding a US Green Card is equivalent to having the right of abode in a foreign country, thereby rendering the holder ineligible for candidature in LegCo elections; and
(b) state unequivocally whether US Green Card holders are defined as persons with the right of abode in a foreign country and whether they are eligible to take part in LegCo elections?
The subject of nomination of candidates for LegCo elections falls within the overall policy remit of the Constitutional Affairs Bureau.
As regards the nationality and right of abode requirement of a candidate standing for a LegCo election, the Government's policy has been clearly reflected in section 37 of the Legislative Council Ordinance. Under this provision, a candidate nominated for an election for a geographical constituency, or for election by the Election Committee, shall be a Chinese resident who is a permanent resident of Hong Kong with no right of abode in any country other than the People's Republic of China. As for functional constituency elections, except in the case of the 12 specified constituencies (see Note below), a candidate shall likewise be a Chinese citizen who is a permanent resident of Hong Kong with no right of abode in any country other than the People's Republic of China. If a candidate does not meet the above requirement, he will not be eligible to be nominated as a candidate.
To our understanding, in general, a Green Card issued by the US Government does not grant the holder the right of abode in the country.
In general, any member of the public who has a complaint on election-related matter may lodge the complaint with the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) within 45 days of the date of the relevant election. Depending on the subject matter, the EAC may follow up on the complaint or it may refer the complaint to the appropriate authorities.
(Note) The 12 specified functional constituencies are:
(a) the legal functional constituency;
(b) the accountancy functional constituency;
(c) the engineering functional constituency;
(d) the architectural, surveying and planning functional constituency;
(e) the real estate and construction functional constituency;
(f) the tourism functional constituency;
(g) the commercial (first) functional constituency;
(h) the industrial (first) functional constituency;
(i) the finance functional constituency;
(j) the financial services functional constituency;
(k) the import and export functional constituency; and
(l) the insurance functional constituency.
Ends/Wednesday, October 29, 2003