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Officials explain decision on 2017 HK election

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-09-02 10:33

Officials explain decision on 2017 HK election

Li Fei (C), vice secretary-general of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, Zhang Rongshun (L), vice-chairperson of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, and Feng Wei, deputy director of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, are present at a briefing session concerning the NPC Standing Committee's Decision 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, in Hong Kong, South China, Sept 1, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

HONG KONG - Senior Chinese officials explained at a meeting here Monday a legislative decision on electing Hong Kong's chief executive by universal suffrage, which has been heatedly debated in the Special Administrative Region ( SAR).

Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, and other officials, told representatives from Hong Kong's various social sectors how and why the decision was made.

The NPC Standing Committee decided on Sunday to grant universal suffrage in selection of Hong Kong's chief executive from 2017 onward with two or three candidates nominated by a "broadly representative" nomination committee.

Li Fei noted that some local pan-democratic lawmakers threatened to veto the proposed universal suffrage plan in line with the NPC decision and some even threatened to occupy the Central. But if the central authorities give in just because some people threaten with illegal activities, that would only bring more and worse law-breaking behavior.

"Many pan-democrats also love the country and love Hong Kong," said Li, "As long as they give up their biases, the universal suffrage plan in line with the Basic Law and the NPC decision would also be the best choice for them."

Li said the Standing Committee members are highly concerned about Occupy Central in deliberating the report submitted by the incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

"If the Occupy Central campaign really happens, the central authorities believe the SAR government and its well-trained police forces are fully capable of handling it," he said.

Li's speech was interrupted by some pan-democratic lawmakers of the Hong Kong Legislative Council who marched around in the conference hall and yelled slogans. Outside the hall, pan- democrats and pro-establishment supporters argued each other seriously.

The main argument of pan-democrats focuses on the candidate nomination for the universal suffrage. They complained that the top legislature should not rule out other nomination powers such as civil nomination.

Officials with the central authorities and the SAR government have repeatedly said any other nomination channels have no legal basis in the Hong Kong Basic Law which gives the nomination power only to the nomination committee.

Li Fei denied there is any unreasonable limitation on candidates for the univers. He told Hong Kong press later in the afternoon that only the nomination committee has the power to nominate candidates.

According to the NPC decision, a legitimate candidate should acquire support from at least half of the nomination committee which should be established in accordance with the number of members, composition and formation method of the Election Committee for the forth chief executive.

Hong Kong's first chief executive was elected by a 400-member Selection Committee, while the second, third and fourth chief executives were elected by the Election Committee, with its membership increasing from 800 to 1,200.

Li Fei said the way in electing nomination committee members under different sub-sectors are still open for discussion and he believes that nomination committee members will certainly consider opinions of the people they speak for.

Li said the SAR Legislative Council holds the key to the implementation of the universal suffrage in 2017. If the plan was vetoed by the Legislative Council members, the election method for the next chief executive will remain unchanged as that in 2012.

Feng Wei, deputy director with the State Council's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, said that a representative system is not the only way to realize democracy in modern society, and a hybrid system that allow various channels for the citizens to participate in political activities.

Therefore, the 38 sub-sectors in the Election Committee and nomination committee in the future would allow different stakeholders in the society to participate in politics and have their voices heard.

"Pan-democrats may have different views on Hong Kong's constitutional reform," Feng said, "but they should not undermine the role of central government on the issue."

Feng said that Hong Kong is at its crossroad of reform and all sectors should think twice and make the right choice and put aside their prejudices and personal interests to forge consensus.

Zhang Rongshun, vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee's legislative affairs commission, said as the central government has a substantive power to appoint the chief executive-elect, there could be a constitutional crisis if the central government refused to appoint the winner chosen by Hong Kong voters via universal suffrage.

Also on Monday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told the media that the NPC decision was not the final step and many jobs still need to be done to implement the decision in 2017. The universal suffrage plan needs to obtain a two-thirds majority support from all members of the Legislative Council.

The SAR government will start a second round public consultation on Hong Kong's constitutional reform later this year. The incumbent chief executive was elected by an Election Committee in 2012.

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