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Tsang calls for consensus on political reform
By Joseph Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-25 00:17

Hong Kong must reach a consensus on political reform, Chief Secretary Donald Tsang said Monday.

And he stressed again that any reform move has to comply with the decision of the country's top legislature.

Tsang was speaking at the start of a seminar organized by the Task Force on Constitutional Development.

More than 100 people -- political leaders and representatives from the business and legal sectors -- participated in the discussion.

Tsang said the task force's third report, published on May 11, established that constitutional development had entered the stage of discussion on concrete proposals.

In spite of different views in the past few months, Tsang said people from all social sectors and the media were encouraged to continue to make use of the freedom-of-speech environment in Hong Kong to express their views.

At the end of the closed-door seminar, participants reported that many people shared the view that the size of the Election Committee for the selection of the chief executive in 2007 should be expanded.

They also shared the view that the electoral base (which is now 165,000 voters) that chooses the Election Committee members should also be enlarged in order to broaden the representation.

On Legislative Council elections, the majority view was that the number of seats in 2008 should be increased.

The seminar was divided into five groups for closed-door discussions. At the end, five facilitators briefed the audience on what was discussed.

Dr Choi Yuen-wan, one of the facilitators, said that there were strong views in his group that the existing number of 100 nominations required for a chief executive candidate be lowered.

Also, an Election Committee member should be allowed to nominate more than one candidate.

"We hope there will be more people who have the heart (to serve Hong Kong) and have the good quality to take part in the election."

Professor K.C. Chan, dean of business & management of the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, said there was a suggestion from his group that the 50-50 ratio for legislators from the geographical and functional constituencies be carefully studied with universal suffrage as the ultimate goal.

There was also a view that the ratio should remain unchanged for 2008, but the number of legislators chosen by direct election should increase gradually, he said.

There was a view that constitutional development in 2007 and 2008 should progress by big strides, Professor. Edward Chen, President of Lingnan University, said.

And he put forth an innovative suggestion that if the Election Committee is expanded, it should be composed of 500 citizens randomly chosen to allow a broad cross-section of society to participate.

This idea came from Professor Albert Chen, a legal academic from the University of Hong Kong and a member of the Basic Law Committee.

There was also a suggestion that a chief executive candidate get support from 25 electors from each of the four constituencies in the Election Committee to show the gaining of cross-sector support.

Alan Leong, from the Article 45 Concern Group, said after the meeting: "Today, there seems to be a strong consensus that we should design the political reform packages with universal suffrage as the goal by way of broadening the electoral basis."

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