'Forge a consensus on political reform'
By Max Hong (HK Edition)
Updated: 2007-12-31 07:17
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam yesterday urged all political parties to reach a consensus over Hong Kong's constitutional development now that the central government has fixed the timetable.
National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) announced on Saturday morning a number of key decisions over Hong Kong's constitutional development.
The NPCSC decided that the SAR chief executive could be returned by universal suffrage in the 2017 election after nominated by a democratically elected nomination committee, while the introduction of universal suffrage for electing Legislative Councillors would come afterward.
The NPCSC also specified that the proportion between the members of Legislative Council (LegCo) elected from functional and geographical constituencies would remain the same in 2012, but the methods for CE and LegCo elections in that year could be amended according to the principle of gradual and orderly progress.
Speaking after attending RTHK's City Forum on the issue yesterday, Lam pointed out that the opposition members in LegCo had insisted for years on a timetable for the introduction of universal suffrage.
Having set the timetable, he said, the NPCSC has now left the mode of and roadmap to universal suffrage to the local people for discussion. And now the SAR government will have to submit a bill for debate in LegCo to forge a consensus.
"This division of labor (among various parties involved in the exercise) totally serves Hong Kong's interests," Lam said.
Different political parties and lawmakers may have different views, but the SAR government hopes to work with different parties and sectors to work out a consensus in democratic development in 2012 and universal suffrage in 2017 and beyond, he said.
Responding to some queries that the timetable laid down by NPCSC was not in "black and white", Lam stressed that NPCSC's decision was certainly legally valid.
"NPCSC's decisions (over the issue) are legally binding. They are very solemn decisions made by the supreme organ of State power through exercising the power vested in it. These are also a positive response to Hong Kong people's aspiration for universal suffrage over the years."
Recalling the experience in 2005, Lam said opposition lawmakers vetoed the constitutional reform package in 2005, and now that the timetable is in place, he expressed hope that LegCo members could reach a consensus after public consultation so as to pave the way for universal suffrage.
Speaking at the same forum, Hong Kong deputy to National People's Congress Maria Tam warned that if some people questioned the legal validity of NPCSC's decisions over Hong Kong's constitutional development and attempted to resolve the political reform disputes through other means, their efforts might backfire and delay the reform process.
(HK Edition 12/31/2007 page5)