|LCQ1: The 2017 Chief Executive Election
Following is a question by the Hon Kwong Chun-yu and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (March 1):
Article 45 of the Basic Law provides that the Chief Executive (CE) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) shall be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the Central People's Government (CPG). The 2017 Chief Executive Election will be held on the 26th of this month. However, it has been reported that a candidate remarked during a tea reception with the senior staff of the media industry in January this year that the worst-case scenario for this election was that it was won by a person whom CPG would not appoint, which would result in a constitutional crisis, and it was her responsibility to prevent the occurrence of such a scenario. Besides, it has been reported that some CPG officials met with some Election Committee members earlier in Shenzhen telling them clearly that the said candidate was the only candidate whom CPG supported. A senior adviser of that candidate advised last month that if this report was true, the State President must have been involved in making such an important decision. Some members of the public consider that certain people making the aforesaid remarks have the intention of exerting pressure on Election Committee members, making people query whether this CE election could be conducted in a fair and just manner. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has approached CPG to gain an understanding of the circumstances under which the winner of a CE election will not be appointed as CE by CPG; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) whether it has studied if the remarks, made by any person shortly before a CE election, that the intention of a person to run for the election is to prevent the occurrence of a constitutional crisis and that CPG only supports a particular candidate are in breach of the relevant electoral legislation and Article 22 of the Basic Law (which stipulates that no department of CPG may interfere in the affairs which HKSAR administers on its own in accordance with the Basic Law); if it has studied, whether it will relay the results of such a study to CPG; if so, of the means by which and the CPG officials to whom the Government will relay the results; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) whether it has assessed if the aforesaid remarks have caused the public to lose confidence in the fairness of this CE election; if it has assessed and the outcome is in the affirmative, of the Government's measures to restore the confidence of the public; if the assessment outcome is in the negative, the reasons for that?
The reply to member's question is as follows:
On part (1) of the question, regarding the method for selecting the Chief Executive (CE), Article 43 of the Basic Law specifies that "[t]he CE of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) shall be the head of the HKSAR and shall represent the Region. The CE of the HKSAR shall be accountable to the Central People's Government (CPG) and the HKSAR in accordance with the provisions of this Law."
Besides, Article 15 of the Basic Law clearly states that "[t]he CPG shall appoint the CE and the principal officials of the executive authorities of the HKSAR in accordance with the provisions of Chapter IV of this Law." In addition, according to Article 45 of the Basic Law, "[t]he CE of the HKSAR shall be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the CPG."
Before the selection of the CE by universal suffrage is attained, in accordance with the Basic Law, the CE shall be elected by a broadly representative Election Committee (EC) in accordance with the Basic Law, and appointed by the CPG. According to Annex I of the Basic Law, the EC is responsible for nominating candidate(s) for the office of CE and each EC member may nominate only one candidate. The EC shall then elect the CE designate by secret ballot on a one-person-one-vote basis.
Based on the provisions of the Basic Law quoted above, the method for selecting the CE involves three steps in total, namely, nomination, election and appointment. As we have clearly stated in the past discussion on constitutional development, under the constitutional and legal framework, the powers of nominating, electing and appointing the CE are substantive. After a candidate is returned by the CE election, the whole procedures will only be completed upon the CPG's appointment of the CE designate. The HKSAR is a local administrative region directly under the CPG. The CE shall be accountable to the CPG in accordance with the requirement under the Basic Law and thus the CE must be appointed by the CPG substantively in order to reflect the sovereignty of the State.
In the Explanations on the Draft Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Issues Relating to the Selection of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by Universal Suffrage and on the Method for Forming the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the Year 2016 issued in 2014, it was clearly stated that, "[t]he central authorities, in formulating the basic policies with respect to Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Basic Law, already clearly pointed out that the power of the CPG to appoint the CE of the HKSAR is a substantive one. The CPG has the right to make the final decision on whether to appoint or not to appoint the CE returned by election held locally in Hong Kong."
The CPG will make a comprehensive assessment in considering whether to make an appointment of the CE. Where necessary, the CPG may state its views on the factors to be considered by the CPG regarding the appointment of the CE through various channels. It is indeed inappropriate for the HKSAR Government or any principal officials to state the factors to be considered in appointing the CE on behalf of the CPG.
As for parts (2) and (3) of the question, the HKSAR Government is not in a position to comment on the remarks of any individual candidate and the anecdotal and unverified reports in the press. However, as stated in my reply for part (1), the CPG has substantive power to appoint the CE. The CPG has the power to appoint or not to appoint the CE designate. From different provisions of the Basic Law, it can be seen that the method for selecting the CE does not purely fall under the category of affairs which the HKSAR administers on its own in accordance with the Basic Law. The CPG does have its constitutional role, power and responsibility in the appointment of the CE.
The 2017 CE Election will be held on March 26 this year. The Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) is responsible for conducting and supervising the election. Over the years, each and every public election was conducted in accordance with the law and the principles of openness, fairness and honesty. The fairness and impartiality of the elections are also evident to all. The Government has been working closely with the EAC as always to ensure that the 2017 CE Election is conducted in a fair, open and honest manner in strict accordance with the relevant legislation. Upon receipt of any complaints, the EAC will take follow-up actions in accordance with established procedures and, where necessary, refer it to the relevant law enforcement agency for handling.
Ends/Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:30