HK unveils constitutional development
By Tonny Chan and Cecilia Lo (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-20 05:32
HONG KONG: The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's Election Committee,
which will pick the chief executive in 2007, would double in size and the
Legislative Council (LegCo) would add 10 members in 2008 under the government
blueprint unveiled yesterday.
For the proposal to be implemented, it must pass the LegCo, currently 60
members, by a two-thirds majority before it may apply to the central government
in Beijing to amend the relevant appendices of the SAR's Basic Law.
The blueprint proposes that the number of Election Committee members be
doubled to 1,600 including all 529 District Council members and more
representatives from other sectors.
It also suggests the membership of the LegCo be increased to 70, with
geographical direct elections filling five new seats and district councillors
filling the other five.
Introducing the proposal in the LegCo and later at a press conference, Chief
Secretary for Administration Rafael Hui conceded the administration had not yet
secured enough votes in the LegCo to ensure passage.
Hui said the proposal in the Fifth Report of the Constitutional Development
Task Force was the best they could have arrived at, and he warned of the risk of
facing no constitutional progress at all should the LegCo reject it.
"The main thrust of the proposed package is the enhanced level of
participation of District Council members in the Election Committee and the
LegCo," Hui told the lawmakers.
"Half of the newly added members of the Election Committee and all the newly
added LegCo seats will basically be directly or indirectly elected by more than
3 million voters in Hong Kong through geographical constituencies," Hui said.
Chief Executive Donald Tsang said Hong Kong was already in the defining
moment for constitutional development, and he called on lawmakers critical of
the blueprint not to allow their sectarian interests to hinder the SAR's
Li Gang, deputy director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's
Government in the SAR, said the government's proposals in the report will be
accepted by both the central government and Hong Kong people.
Ma Lik, chairman of Democratic Alliance for Betterment and Progress of Hong
Kong, said they supported the government's option because they had put forth
Michael Sim, 33, a technician from the northern district said: "One cannot be
too pushy and rush things. I am happy that more voices could be heard in the
Leung Jark-cheung, 26, an insurance marketing officer from Island West, said:
"Changes in the constitution should proceed steadily. To the average citizen
like me, stability is most important."
(China Daily 10/20/2005 page2)