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Tsang: HK not test ground for political system
(China Daily HK Edition)
Updated: 2004-03-18 09:00

The Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo) on March 17 voted down a motion initiated by democrat James To who urged the task force on Constitutional Development to consult the public with proposals on political review.

Donald Tsang speaks at the LegCo in this February 11, 2004 file photo. [newsphoto]
"Constitutional development is a complicated issue. It is not a simple proposal. Rather it is an issue that goes deeper and touches some other matters," said Hong Kong government Chief Secretary Donald Tsang at the LegCo.

The matters include the interests of different social sectors, economic prosperity, social stability as well as the relationship between the central government and Hong Kong.

"We shall not treat Hong Kong as a testing ground for a political system," he said, stressing that any constitutional development in Hong Kong has to comply with the Basic Law and be carried out cautiously.

He revealed that his task force will seek meetings with the Chinese central government after finishing its consultations on political development by the end of this month.

Some legislators, including James To and Margaret Ng, said that the current discussion on principles such as "patriots forming the main body of Hong Kong rulers", advocated by former top Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, is "shallow and waste of time".

Tsang, who heads the task force, refuted such remarks.

"In political reality, if concrete proposals put forward in future do not go in line with the principles of the Hong Kong Basic Law, it will deal a blow to the local community and give rise to more controversies. In the end it is the people of Hong Kong who will suffer," said Tsang.

Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam said at the Legco meeting that the central government had authority and responsibilities under the Chinese Constitution to oversee the development of the political structure of Hong Kong Special Administration Region.

In addition, Lam said that the establishment of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Research Institute by the State Council's Development Research Center would not overlap with the operation of the task force.

"It shows that the central government attaches importance to constitutional development in Hong Kong, which is part of the internal affairs of China," Lam said.

"We have great difficulty in understanding why members (of Legco) should appear before a foreign legislature and give evidence on a matter which falls within China's own internal affairs. We consider their acts to be inappropriate."

Meanwhile, Liberal Party lawmaker Howard Young said that any decision related to constitutional development in Hong Kong should be based on Hong Kong's stability and prosperity, and take into full account the interests of various sectors and the opinion of the central government.

"Universal suffrage is a matter of crucial importance. Never shall it happen overnight," he said.

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