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Draft interpretation under discussion
By Sun Shangwu (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-25 23:52

Chinese lawmakers in Beijing said yesterday that it is "lawful and necessary" for nation's top legislature to interpret Hong Kong's mini-constitution regarding the tenure of the region's chief executive.

Members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) yesterday held panel discussions on the draft interpretation of Clause 2, Article 53 of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

As people in Hong Kong have big differences over the issue concerning the tenure of the new chief executive in the region, it is "lawful and necessary as well as timely" for NPC Standing Committee to interpret certain clauses of the Basic Law, said legislators attending the panel meetings.

The interpretation is in accordance with China's Constitution and the Basic Law of the HKSAR and guarantees the correct implementation of the "one country, two systems" guideline as well as the Basic Law of the HKSAR, legislators said.

Interpretation by the NPC will also help with the smooth by-election of a new chief executive, safeguard the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and maintain the basic interests of Hong Kong residents, they added.

The former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa resigned last month, citing health reasons.

The legislators are now attending the four-day 15th session of the 10th NPC Standing Committee, which started on Sunday.

According to Article 45, Clause 2 of Article 53 and the Annex I of the Basic Law of HKSAR, in the event that the office of a chief executive becomes vacant before the chief executive's five-year tenure is expired, the tenure of the new chief executive shall be the remaining tenure of the former chief executive, said Li Fei, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee at the opening meeting on Sunday.

Legislators said yesterday that the draft interpretation was raised in a democratic and lawful way.

After the draft interpretation was put forward by the meeting of chairman and vice-chairpersons of the 10th NPC Standing Committee, the NPC Standing Committee sought opinions from the Basic Law Committee of the HKSAR under the NPC Standing Committee.

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 issues relating to the draft interpretation.

Legislators said that since the return of Hong Kong, the central government has always unswervingly implemented the guidelines known as "one country, two systems," and "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" and made all-out efforts to safeguard the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

They also suggested that more promotion work be done on the Basic Law of the HKSAR to help the public better understand the Basic Law.

Chinese lawmakers yesterday also held panel discussions on the Law on Civil Servants and suggested passing the law tomorrow when the standing committee meeting concludes.

They said the system for civil servants is an important component of China's political structure.

The law is expected to better regulate practice by civil servants, guarantee their rights and increase supervision, legislators added.

(China Daily 04/26/2005 page2)

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