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'Mutual trust essential' for HongKong
By Eddie Luk (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-29 00:03

Mutual trust between the mainland and Hong Kong is fundamental to the SAR's constitutional development towards universal suffrage, acting Chief Executive (CE) Donald Tsang said yesterday.

Tsang was speaking at his first question-and-answer session at the Legislative Council (LegCo) following Tung Chee-hwa's resignation last month.

Tsang said Hong Kong citizens shared the common hope that Hong Kong's political development can realize the goal of universal suffrage in the election of the CE and the formation of the legislature as soon as possible.

However this can only be achieved within the political framework stipulated in the Basic Law: that universal suffrage secures the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all LegCo members, the consent of the SAR CE and the approval of the Beijing-based National People's Congress Standing Committee.

Tsang said: "Development must be based on mutual trust (between the mainland and Hong Kong). We have to show confidence and gain a better understanding of our country's situation. On the other hand, we are hopeful our country can understand the mood of the Hong Kong people.

"If we put in hard efforts in this regard, we can expect to see an early introduction of universal suffrage.''

At present, Hong Kong citizens should seek consensus for the SAR's future constitutional development, and work together to make the forthcoming elections for the CE in 2007 and the legislature in 2008 more broadly representative, open and democratic, he noted.

A three-member government task force on constitutional review, headed by Tsang, is gauging public opinion on the electoral arrangements for the selection of a CE in 2007 and the formation of the legislature in 2008, paving the way for a mainstream proposal in the latter half of this year.

At yesterday's LegCo question and answer session, Tsang also called on citizens and "pan-democracy'' lawmakers not to see the matter of the Basic Law interpretation by the country's top legislature as a negative development.

Tsang told legislators that he is fully focussed on ensuring arrangements are in place for a smooth by-election for the new CE.

Tsang also made his first comments on contesting the CE's post himself after weeks of speculation since Tung Chee-hwa resigned in March.

"I really don't have the luxury to consider this for the time being," he said.

Replying to a question from legislator Lee Wing-tat, Tsang said that as acting CE, his primary job was to ensure the smooth election of a new CE on July 10.

"For the time being, I can only fully concentrate on fulfilling the duties of acting CE," he said.

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