HK chief reports to NPC on constitutional development

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Hong Kong Chief Executive C Y Leung submitted Tuesday a report to China's top legislature, initiating the five-step process of Hong Kong's constitutional development.

"Today is a historic moment in the constitutional development of Hong Kong ... In about two years, over 5 million eligible voters in Hong Kong could directly elect the Chief Executive (CE) through 'one person, one vote' for the first time in our history," said Leung at a press conference.

The report Leung submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, focuses on whether there is a need to amend the methods for selecting Hong Kong's CE in 2017 and for forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2016.

Leung said in the report that he takes the view that there is a need to amend the method for selecting the CE in 2017 in order to attain the aim of universal suffrage, while Annex II to the Basic Law concerning the method for forming the LegCo in 2016 need not be amended.

On the whole, the community of Hong Kong is generally eager to see the implementation of universal suffrage for the CE election in 2017, and generally agree that successful implementation of universal suffrage for the 2017 election will bring about positive impact on the policy implementation, economy, and livelihood matters in Hong Kong in the future, and hence sustained development and long-term prosperity and stability for Hong Kong, according to the report.

The report said that the mainstream opinion is that Article 45 of the Basic Law has already made clear that the power to nominate CE candidates is vested in the Nominating Committee (NC) only, and that the NC has a substantive power to nominate.

Such power of nomination must not be undermined or bypassed directly or indirectly, said the report.

There are quite a number of views that the NC should be of the same size as the current Election Committee - 1,200 members; and if there is a need to increase its size, the total number of members should not exceed 1,600.

There are also quite a number of views that a person contending for nomination has to obtain support from at least a certain proportion of members of the NC in order to formally become a candidate, so as to demonstrate that such a person has cross- sector support in the NC; to reflect the democratic principle of " the majority rule," and to fulfill the requirement of the NC to nominate as an organization.

Regarding the number of CE candidates, there are two major views, the reported noted.

One of the views, it said, is that there is a need to ensure the solemnity of the election and allow voters to have sufficient understanding of the candidates' manifestoes and missions, and hence it is necessary to fix the number of candidates.

The other view is that there is no need to restrict the number of candidates.

"Of those who consider that there a need to set the number of candidates, some suggest to set the number of candidates at two to three since the number of candidates in the past CE elections was around two to three; while some put forward other numbers," the report said.

It said the community of Hong Kong generally agrees that the post of Chief Executive must be taken up by a person who "loves the country and loves Hong Kong."

"We will be able to take a big stride forward in the democratic development of Hong Kong if we are willing to forge consensus as much as we can and leave behind our differences in a rational and pragmatic manner on the remaining work," said the incumbent CE.

Also on Tuesday, Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam reported to the LegCo the result of the five-month public consultation on CE election and the LegCo formation.

Tuesday's move marked the beginning of the procedures for amending the methods for CE election and for the LegCo formation, which is also known as the Five-Step Process of Constitutional Development.

If the country's top legislature makes a determination in August, another round of public consultation will be launched around the end of this year to collect views on specific proposals on implementing universal suffrage for the CE election in 2017, said Leung.

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