LCQ5: CE and LegCo elections by universal suffrage
Following is a question by Hon Emily Lau and an oral reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 14):
Concerning the expeditious implementation of the election of the Chief Executive (CE) and all Members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) by universal suffrage ("dual elections by universal suffrage"), will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
(a) whether the fact that CE and the Secretaries of Departments and Directors of Bureaux repeatedly call Members of this Council who support the expeditious implementation of dual elections by universal suffrage as "the opposition" is due to their opposing the motions on constitutional reform put forth last December by the authorities; given that in democratic countries and places, "the opposition" refers to those political parties which are not in power following defeat in an election, whether the authorities have reviewed if it is appropriate to call these Members as "the opposition", when they obtained 60% of the votes in the last LegCo elections;
(b) whether they have assessed if CE, who is not elected by universal suffrage and may not be a member of any political party, can exercise effective governance, regardless of how high his support rates are in opinion polls; and
(c) as a recent opinion poll has indicated that more than two thirds of the members of the public are supportive of the expeditious implementation of dual elections by universal suffrage, whether the authorities will lobby those who are resistant to that for a change of attitude?
(a) The Chief Executive (CE) has already clearly expressed his views on the term “opposition camp” in the previous two Legislative Council Question and Answer sessions.
With regard to constitutional development, in December last year, the opposition camp rejected the proposed package for the electoral methods for 2007/08 put forth by the Government. According to different opinion polls, more than half of the population supported the package before it was put to vote last year. Also, according to a recent poll conducted by the Hong Kong Baptist University, 50% of the Hong Kong public considered that the opposition camp was responsible for the failure of the package to get passed LegCo.
Although it is a fact, as stated by the Honourable Emily Lau, that Members from the opposition camp obtained 60% of the votes in the last LegCo election, it is also a fact that in opposing the Government's package last year, the opposition camp has undoubtedly acted against public opinions, and has caused Hong Kong to miss an opportunity to achieve more democracy in 2007/08.
(b) According to the design of the Basic Law, the political structure in Hong Kong is basically an executive-led system headed by the Chief Executive. According to the Basic Law, the CE shall be accountable to the Central People’s Government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The CE is the head of the HKSAR. He also leads the HKSAR Government. The CE is responsible for implementing the Basic Law, ensuring that the principle of "One Country, Two Systems" is fully implemented in Hong Kong, and developing and implementing the systems and policies of the HKSAR. To meet these requirements, an executive-led system must be implemented.
The respective powers and responsibilities of the executive authorities and the legislature are clearly prescribed in the Basic Law. Under the spirit of the Basic Law, the relationship between the executive authorities and the legislature is one of mutual regulation and coordination. Bills and budgets involving public expenditures, political structure and Government operation have to be put forth by the Government, and passed by LegCo.
In formulating and implementing policies, the executive authorities must take full account of public opinions to ensure that policies are moderate, reasonable and consistent with our objectives. On this basis, the executive authorities have been supporting the work of the legislature as far as possible so as to jointly serve the community. The Government will continue to maintain close liaison with LegCo Members of different political parties, as well as independent Members, to foster co-operation and solicit their support, with a view to forging broad consensus on issues and policies of importance to the community and bringing about effective governance.
(c) Both the Central Authorities and the HKSAR Government are fully alive to the community's aspirations on universal suffrage. The ultimate aim of attaining universal suffrage is also recognised by all parties.
The CE has tasked the Commission on Strategic Development to discuss the issue of constitutional development. Members of the Commission are drawn from a broad cross section of the community, including professionals, academics, businessmen, members of different political parties, LegCo Members, as well as labour and media personalities. The Commission will commence discussion in July on possible models for electing the CE and LegCo by universal suffrage. It aims to draw conclusions on the discussions by early 2007.
We must understand that constitutional development in Hong Kong must be made on the basis of HKSAR's constitutional arrangements. One of the important requirements is that, progress on constitutional development is dependent on whether a consensus could be achieved among the Central Authorities, the Government, the LegCo, and different sectors of the community. Therefore, different sectors of the community must be prepared to accept a proposal which can meet the interests of different sectors of society, if there is to be hope of achieving progress on constitutional development.
Ends/Wednesday, June 14, 2006