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Hong Kongers urged to stay calm and rational
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-27 10:14

Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa Monday urged the local community to stay "calm and rational" in the wake of a decision by the country's top legislature on Hong Kong's constitutional development.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa welcomes the decision by China's top legislative body on issues concerning Hong Kong's constitutional development, April 26, 2004. [newsphoto]
The National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) gave the green light earlier in the day for amendments to the methods for selecting the chief executive in 2007 and forming the Legislative Council in 2008. But universal suffrage was ruled out for the upcoming elections.

At a press conference Monday, Tung called on members of the public to be "calm and rational".

He urged local people to set aside their "differences and disputes and preconceived notions and strive to build a consensus on the constitutional development in Hong Kong".

The NPCSC decision was made in response to Tung's report on the need for amendments in the political process.

Tung said the SAR government welcomes the NPCSC endorsement of his report on constitutional development.

"As Wu Banguo, NPCSC chairman said, the decision today was significant," he noted. "They have had regard to views of various sectors and a decision was taken in support of the policy of 'One Country, Two Systems' and also the provisions in the Basic Law. It was intended to maintain long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong, and it was in line with orderly progress and the actual situation in Hong Kong."

He added that the decision has activated the amendment mechanism in the Basic Law.

"It is time to take constitutional development forward," Tung declared. "I have instructed the chief secretary for administration and his task force to submit their third report in May and also to promote the next stage of work in a rational, pragmatic and far-sighted manner."

Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang, who heads up the Constitutional Development Task Force,met the media yesterday, flanked by the two other task force members, Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung and Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam.

"I'm sure the public will be results-oriented," Tsang said. "We'll make sure constitutional development is gradual and orderly. That will be much better than taking unnecessary risks."

The first two reports from the task force focused on legislative process issues and principles in the Basic Law.

In the next report, Tsang said the task force will summarize the NPCSC views, and the recent decision.

"We will set out things that can be amended. These will be spelled out in the report. We hope to gather your opinions," he told the media.

Tsang appealed to members of the community to submit their views on constitutional development, but to keep in mind the limitations set out in the Basic Law and in the standing committee's decision.

"I believe that the community now has a golden opportunity to demonstrate our political maturity," he said.

"I understand that there are a wide range of views on the subject in the community. But I must emphasize that, if we are to make good progress, individuals and organizations of different backgrounds, affiliations and views should come together, commence a dialogue on the basis of mutual respect, so as to better understand one another's concerns and worries, and not to waste time on confrontations, collisions, or arguments which go beyond the NPCSC decision."

He added: "Only through rational discussions and consensus building can constitutional development achieve success. We must bear in mind that if any concrete proposals for constitutional development are to materialize, they must have the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all members of the Legislative Council and the consent of the chief executive, and they shall be reported to the NPCSC for approval or for the record. None of these steps is dispensable."

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