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Hong Kong needs more political talents
By Tonny Chan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-06-04 00:55

HONG KONG: Donald Tsang placed nurturing local political talent high on his agenda on Friday, promising to lay a more solid foundation for the implementation of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle over the next two years.

Canvassing support from Election Committee (EC) members for his bid for the chief executive's (CE) post at an open forum in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Tsang said the SAR was about to enter a new phase in constitutional development. So it's only natural for citizens to expect more political participation as the economy develops, he said, promising to finalize a "comprehensive" plan to groom political talents in the next two years.

He told EC members that he already had some ideas on how to go about his task; one of which was to dig into the civil service for talented people who also aspire to play a political role.

"I will study how to reform our political superstructure to create more opportunities for participation in politics," he said. "In driving towards universal suffrage, we have to think how to ensure the smooth running of our executive-led government and nurture more quality political talents at different levels."

A professional and politically neutral civil service is the backbone of Hong Kong, he said, and the government must keep the bureaucracy's morale high so that it maintains stability to help the government deliver services efficiently.

"While affirming the role of civil servants, the government should gradually open up to enlist more elites from the community to join the governing team," he said. Saying that such opportunities for political participation alone would not be sufficient to develop a more open system, he appealed to political parties and other groups to groom their own talents at different levels.

He said political participation and nurturing political talents dovetailed with political development and could not be achieved overnight and promised to work closely with senior civil servants to draw up a plan and consult all sectors -- the civil service, political parties and the community -- before finalizing the initiatives.

He believed that if the right choice was made, the government's political strength could grow and the principle of executive-led government would be entrenched.

"This will enable the formation of a more solid foundation for the implementation of the principle of 'Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong'," Tsang said.

Friday's forum was the first of five Tsang would have with EC members. He will meet other EC members, too, to solicit their support at four close-door sessions over the weekend.

Tsang said there already was a consensus in the community that Hong Kong's political system needed to be reformed with the ultimate objective of universal suffrage. The question is how quick the process should be.

He was confident that the people of Hong Kong could reach a consensus on matters of principle this year, so that legislative preparations for the 2007 CE and the 2008 Legislative Council elections could start right away.

"I believe we can agree on a blueprint for constitutional development on the basis of respect for the central government's constitutional right towards the SAR as enshrined in the Basic Law," he said.

Calling for a sense of harmony in the society, he said a stable political environment was the cornerstone of Hong Kong in the face of globalization.

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