Government and Policy

'Referendum' attempt would violate Basic Law

By Joseph Li and Guo Jiaxue (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-01-16 08:31
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Opposition parties' move would also damage Hong Kong's unity

HONG KONG: Five opposition legislators' act to turn their resignations into a so-called "referendum" on Hong Kong's electoral reform violates the Basic Law and the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office under the State Council said on Friday.

At the same time, the central government's liaison office in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) also said the "referendum" action is not conducive to constitutional progress, and political and economic development in Hong Kong.

This is the first time the central government has reacted to the planned resignations by the Civic Party and the League of Social Democrats. The statements came just a day after Chief Executive Donald Tsang blasted the so-called "referendum" as lacking legal basis and the Hong Kong SAR government would not recognize it.

Echoing the statements, a spokesman for the Hong Kong SAR government said acts that deviate from the Basic Law will create more social conflicts and are not conducive to common good.

Mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong does not endorse the so-called "referendum", as it will only impose new barriers on constitutional development there, the spokesman said.

Hoping to press ahead universal suffrage and cancellation of functional constituencies in Hong Kong, five legislators from the two opposition parties, namely the Civic Party and the League of Social Democrats, are planning to give up their seats on Jan 27. They will then sit for the by-elections and treat the by-elections as a "referendum" on electoral reform in Hong Kong.

In its statement, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office said referendum mechanisms do not exist in Hong Kong. As a special administrative region of China, Hong Kong has no authority to create a "referendum" mechanism, and the so-called "referendum" in Hong Kong does not have constitutional basis and legal effect, the office said.

The statement also said the National People's Congress Standing Committee has provided a clear ruling on the future development of the political system in the special administrative region, including the principles and procedures to be followed for selecting the chief executive and forming the Legislative Council through universal suffrage.

The resignation plan will only spark disputes, which is not what the Hong Kong people would wish to see, the statement said. The plan will harm the fine situation in Hong Kong, it said.

The government spokesman also noted many Hong Kong people strongly opposed the "referendum." He called on everyone to act in strict accordance with the Basic Law no matter how different their views and positions may be.

A liaison office spokesman said political development in the Hong Kong SAR, including the universal suffrage of the chief executive and the Legislative Council, must be dealt with in accordance with the Basic Law and the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

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Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the statements reflected the central government's deep concern.

The central government is strongly dissatisfied that some people are acting in violation of the Basic Law, he said, hoping the two opposition parties would drop their plan.

Chan Wing-kee, a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, criticized the resignation plan as confronting the central government.

Those people are playing a very dangerous game, he said. If they insist on going ahead, they will heighten the conflicts between the central government and Hong Kong and that will not be good for Hong Kong.

He called on Hong Kong people to snub the campaign by not voting in the by-elections.

Rita Fan, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, hoped citizens understand there is no such thing as a "referendum" mechanism in Hong Kong.

Maria Tam, a deputy to the National People's Congress, said Hong Kong is only a special administrative region, not a sovereign state, and it has not been given the authority to carry out referendums.