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Legislature: New HK chief to serve 2 years
By Tonny Chan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-28 05:47

The country's top legislature in Beijing yesterday ended weeks of bitter debate and unanimously agreed that the SAR's new chief executive (CE), returned in the July 10 by-election, will serve only up to the end of June 2007.

The interpretation was passed by the entire 154 member National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) on the last day of their current session, deputy director Li Fei of the NPC's legal affairs commission said.

Announcing the outcome, Li said the NPCSC had given careful consideration to Article 53 (2). "The fact that it was unanimously approved by the country's top authority reflects the emphasis they have given to it. The interpretation is completely consistent with the legislative intent of the Basic Law," Li said.

During the four-day legislative session which ended on yesterday, lawmakers deliberated the proposal the State Council, China's cabinet, submitted on April 10, requesting the NPC Standing Committee to interpret Paragraph 2, Article 53 of the Basic Law. The committee also scrutinized a draft interpretation.

Li Fei, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Committee of the NPC Standing Committee, made explanations on the draft interpretation during the legislative session.

Election in 2007

In accordance with Annex I of the Basic Law, in April 2004 the NPC Standing Committee adopted the Decision on Questions Related to the Method for Selecting HKSAR Chief Executive in 2007 and That for Forming the Legislative Council in 2008.

It reads: "To the election of the third chief executive of the HKSAR in 2007, the method of universal suffrage shall not be applied." On that premise, "specific methods for selecting the third chief executive of the HKSAR in 2007" could "be appropriately modified consistent with the principle of gradual and orderly progress."

The provisions indicate the third chief executive will be elected in 2007 by the selection method prevailing at the time, and the new chief executive selected to fill the vacancy left by the second chief executive shall only serve out the remainder of the term of office of the previous chief executive, rather than serving a full five-year term, Li said in his explanations.

In a speech delivered at the conclusion of the 15th session of the NPC Standing Committee, Wu Bangguo said: "Nailing down the tenure of the next HKSAR chief executive through interpretation by the NPC Standing Committee is absolutely necessary and also timely."

He said the interpretation by the NPC Standing Committee was drafted on the basis of soliciting opinions from all circles of Hong Kong society, and strictly in accordance with legal procedures.

He stressed that the interpretation has the same legal force as the HKSAR Basic Law, and therefore "must be strictly followed and implemented by all parties concerned."

"In order to ensure the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, the principle of 'one country, two systems' and the HKSAR Basic Law should be unswervingly adhered to and earnestly implemented," said the top legislator.

Previous HKSAR Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, 67, resigned on March 12 before his term expired and Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang stepped in as Acting Chief Executive. Debate on the term of the next CE led to Tsang submitting a report to the State Council on April 6 requesting NPC interpretation of the law.

(China Daily 04/28/2005 page1)

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