HONG KONG: People from all sectors of Hong Kong society have supported the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee decision on the constitutional development of the special administrative region (SAR).
The mainstream opinion is that the NPC Standing Committee decision on Saturday is in accordance with Hong Kong people's aspirations, and sets a clear path for its constitutional development.
According to the decision, appropriate amendments conforming to the principle of gradual and orderly progress may be made to the specific method of selecting the chief executive (CE) and forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) of the Hong Kong SAR in 2012.
The Standing Committee of the NPC, the country's top legislature, has said the CE could be elected through universal suffrage in 2017, after which the LegCo election could follow a similar process.
Hong Kong-based newspapers yesterday gave extensive coverage to the decision, saying it is a major breakthrough in constitutional development.
The NPC Standing Committee has charted a clear direction for Hong Kong's constitutional development, the media said, which provides an institutional guarantee for the stability and development of the SAR's political system.
In a commentary, the South China Morning Post said the decision paves the way for achieving universal suffrage both for the CE and LegCo elections within a timeframe.
"In that respect, we should welcome it and seize the opportunity," it said.
Commentaries in Chinese language newspapers, such as Mingpao, Singtao and Singpao, too, urged Hong Kong people to seize the chance and seek consensus to work towards universal suffrage in a pragmatic way.
Chinese Manufacturers' Association chairman Chan Wing-kee said he supported the decision because "it clarifies the prospect for Hong Kong's constitutional development, facilitates democratic development and focuses on economic development".
"The decision has given us a lot of time to prepare for electing the CE by universal suffrage in 2017," he said.
Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions chairman Wong Kwok-kin said the universal suffrage timetable echoes the wishes of Hong Kong society and will help minimize the political disputes in the SAR.
The Federation of Hong Kong Industries issued a statement supporting the NPC Standing Committee decision. The decision shows the central authorities have acknowledged the report submitted by the CE and set a clear timetable for CE elections through universal suffrage in 2017, it said.
A Hong Kong United Youth Association statement said the NPC Standing Committee has charted a clearer path of constitutional development for the SAR with a clear timetable for universal suffrage.
Tsang Yuk-sing, a member of the SAR's Executive Council, described the decision as "an important milestone" in the history of Hong Kong's constitutional development.
On Saturday, NPC Standing Committee Chairman Wu Bangguo said the decision will have "far-reaching" consequences on the prosperity and stability in Hong Kong.