Legislators examine motion on HK chief
The tenure of a new Hong Kong chief executive shall be the remaining part of the former chief executive's five-year tenure when the former retires before full term, according to a draft interpretation of Hong Kong's mini-constitution provisions.
Li Fei, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, made the explanation while reporting to the ongoing 15th session of the committee.
He said according to Article 45, Clause 2 of Article 53 and the Annex I of the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), in case the office of chief executive becomes vacant before the chief executive's five-year tenure expires, the new chief, elected by the Election Commission, which also has a term of five years, shall be the remaining part of the former's tenure.
Acting Chief Executive and Administrative Secretary Donald Tsang submitted a report to the State Council on April 6, proposing the State Council make a request to the NPC Standing Committee to interpret Clause 2 of Article 53.
The State Council submitted the motion to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on April 10.
The NPC Standing Committee sought opinions from the Basic Law Committee of the Hong Kong SAR on the issues concerning the draft interpretation of the provision in the HKSAR Basic Law and the tenure of the HKSAR chief executive.
The NPC Standing Committee also solicited views from NPC deputies in Hong Kong, members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Hong Kong and representatives from all circles in Hong Kong on the issues related to the draft.
Li said in accordance with the HKSAR Basic Law, in the first 10 years of the HKSAR's establishment, there would be only two HK chief executives elected, each with a tenure of five years.
During and after 2007
However, in accordance with Clause 7, Annex I of the HKSAR Basic Law, as well as relevant regulations made by the NPC Standing Committee on April 26, 2004, if there is a need to amend the method for selecting chief executives for the terms subsequent to 2007, and if the method for the selection of the HKSAR chief executive in Annex I of HKSAR Basic Law is amended after 2007, the new chief executive will be elected according to the then chief executive selection method when the office of chief executive becomes vacant.
The central government sincerely hopes the amendment of the selection method of chief executives with terms subsequent to 2007 will reflect HK's democratic progress and the consensus reached by all circles of Hong Kong society, Li said.
In Hong Kong, a local government spokesman said yesterday the interpretation can ensure the timely by-election of new chief executive and complies with the rule of law in Hong Kong.
He pointed out that seeking an interpretation by the NPC Standing Committee would not affect judicial proceedings in the HKSAR. Meanwhile, the government would deal with judicial review cases according to legal procedures.
The Constitutional Development Task Force consulted the public on its Fourth Report, the spokesman said, adding that the task force welcomed views on amending the methods of selecting the chief executive in 2007 and forming the Legislative Council in 2008.
(China Daily 04/25/2005 page1)