|LCQ15: Public consultation on constitutional development
Following is a question by Dr Hon Lam Tai-fai and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (February 12):
With the release of the "Consultation Document on the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 and for Forming the Legislative Council in 2016", the Government officially launched a five-month public consultation on December 4 last year. The Chief Executive stated in his Policy Address released last month that the Government "is committed to ... achieving the objective of selecting the Chief Executive by way of universal suffrage in 2017 in strict compliance with the Basic Law and the Interpretation and Decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, and after extensive public consultation ... The Government will collate the views received and commence the 'Five-step Process' of constitutional development". Regarding constitutional development, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has sought legal advice on whether the civil nomination option proposed by pan-democrats contravenes the Basic Law and the relevant Interpretation and Decisions of Standing Committee of the National People's Congress; if it has, of the advice; if the advice is in the affirmative, of the details; if the advice is in the negative, the justifications for that;
(2) whether it has discussed the constitutionality and models of operation of the civil nomination option with those organisations or political parties advocating the option; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) whether, according to the analysis of the Government, the implementation of the "three-track nomination" option (i.e. candidature in the 2017 Chief Executive election can be obtained through any one of the three routes, namely civil nomination, nomination by political parties and nomination by a nominating committee) proposed by pan-democrats is (i) conducive to the balanced participation of all sectors and groups in society, (ii) conducive to the effective operation of the executive-led system, (iii) conducive to the maintenance of the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and (iv) in compliance with the requirement for a broadly representative nominating committee; if it is, of the details; if not, the justifications for that;
(4) whether it has discussed the constitutionality and feasibility of the three-track nomination option with the organisations or individuals advocating the option; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(5) given that Article 45(1) of the Basic Law stipulates that "the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the Central People's Government", whether the Government has studied the circumstances or criteria which should be adopted for deciding if the Chief Executive should be selected by election or through consultations; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(6) given that Article 45(2) of the Basic Law stipulates that "[t]he method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures", whether the Government has sought legal advice on the definitions of or the relevant assessment criteria for the following terms: (i) "actual situation", (ii) "gradual and orderly progress", (iii) "broadly representative", and (iv) "democratic procedures"; if it has, of the legal advice;
(7) given that some political parties and organisations have repeatedly indicated that for the selection method to be regarded as "genuine universal suffrage", there must be "no screening" in the method of nominating candidates for the selection of Chief Executive by universal suffrage, whether the Government has studied if such a remark is consistent with the Government's interpretation of "genuine universal suffrage"; if the study outcome is in the affirmative, of the details; if the study outcome is in the negative, the justifications for that;
(8) given that the incumbent Dean of the School of Law of Tsinghua University, who is also a former member of the Basic Law Committee, has earlier pointed out that the universal suffrage system to be implemented in Hong Kong should achieve the dual objectives of preserving Hong Kong's "meritocracy" and safeguarding the interests of the business and industrial sectors, whether the Government has adopted these objectives in promoting constitutional development; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(9) of the total number of consultation activities on constitutional development (including public forums and closed meetings) attended by government officials so far and the number of participants (set out in table form by type of activities);
(10) whether it will step up public consultation efforts (especially on consultation activities targeting at young people and the academia) in the remaining time of the consultation exercise; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(11) whether the Government will invite pan-democrats to hold open debates on the options for constitutional development in the next stage of the consultation exercise; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
On December 4, 2013, the HKSAR Government formally launched the public consultation on the implementation of universal suffrage for the Chief Executive Election in 2017 and the method for forming the Legislative Council in 2016 to prepare for the "Five-step Process" of constitutional development. The five-month consultation will end on May 3, 2014. We hope that different sectors of the community will have thorough discussions on the issues related to the two electoral methods, on the legal basis of the Basic Law and the relevant Interpretation and Decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC). At this stage, the Government would continue meeting with various sectors of the community and listen to different views and suggestions with an open, inclusive and pragmatic mind. At present, the Government would not pass judgement or comment on specific proposals or views from individuals and groups. Therefore, with regard to the various questions raised by Dr Hon Lam, it is not appropriate for the Government to give substantive responses at this stage.
Since the formal launch of the public consultation in December last year, the three members of the Task Force on Constitutional Development (the Task Force) and other politically appointed officials have attended activities, including forums and seminars, with different sectors and groups. Members of the Task Force have also been visiting the 18 District Councils to listen to the views of District Council members. Information regarding these activities is uploaded to the website of the public consultation on the methods for selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 and for forming the Legislative Council in 2016 (www.2017.gov.hk), and will be included in the consultation report. We will continue to maintain communication with people from different sectors through different means throughout the consultation period, to extensively listen to views from various sectors of the community. After the end of the consultation period, we will faithfully summarise and consolidate views received, with a view to facilitating the Chief Executive to make a report to the NPCSC to formally kick-start the "First Step" of the "Five-step Process" of constitutional development.
Ends/Wednesday, February 12, 2014