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Referendum motion `undermines harmony' in HK
By Tony Chen (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-15 22:36

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa Monday slammed a motion calling for a referendum on universal suffrage in the SAR, saying the act would "seriously" damage community harmony and Hong Kong's relationship with the central government.

Tung categorically ruled out any constitutional changes that may depart from the Basic Law and rulings made by the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC).

Backing Tung's views, the Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong Gao Siren warned that the referendum amounted to a challenge to the country's constitutional setup.

Gao said the move contravened the legal status of the SAR, the Basic Law provisions on the election of chief executive and the Legislative Council, as well as the NPCSC's rulings in April.

On April 26, the NPCSC ruled out universal suffrage for the election of the chief executive in 2007 and the formation of the Legislative Council in 2008. It also said that constitutional development must follow a gradual and orderly pace.

The constitutional affairs panel of the Legislative Council yesterday debated a motion moved by lawmaker Fernando Cheung to request the government conduct a referendum on constitutional reforms for 2007 and 2008, including direct elections by universal suffrage.

Members of both the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong and Liberal Party spoke against the motion during the two-and-a-half-hour meeting.

Issuing a strongly worded statement ahead of the meeting, Tung said the motion had caused serious concern in the community and among various concerned parties.

He said the Basic Law already had clear provisions on the constitutional development of Hong Kong and the procedure for electoral changes. What's more, clear rulings had been made in April in Beijing for the elections in 2007 and 2008 in strict accordance with the law and following consultations with different sectors in the SAR.

"The NPCSC is the highest organ of State power. The SAR must abide by and implement its decisions," Tung said.

"Proposing a referendum will seriously undermine the prevailing harmony in the community."

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