Leung has 'no plans to push Article 23'
Emily Tsang and Anita Lam
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying yesterday said he had 'no plans' to put forward legislation for a national security law.
In his first exclusive interview since taking the office, Leung was asked by RTHK whether implementing Article 23 of the Basic Law - which triggered widespread public opposition and was a major cause of the 500,000-strong protest march on July 1, 2003 - was on his agenda during his term.
'I have never actively put forward Article 23 as my platform', Leung said yesterday.
'What I have laid out is to resolve our most pressing issues, such as the housing problem, poverty and the economic situation.'
Asked whether implementing Article 23 would become one of his tasks eventually, Leung simply replied: 'My job is to solve the problems mentioned above, and it is not going to be easy.'
When Leung was elected chief executive on March 25, he said he would strive for consensus on legislating Article 23. At the time, he did not rule out launching a consultation on reviving the controversial national security legislation soon after beginning his term on Sunday.
Elsie Leung Oi-sie, a former secretary for justice, said after attending a conference yesterday that it was entirely up to the current administration to decide when and how Article 23 should be implemented.
RTHK yesterday also asked the chief executive if he intended to scrap the controversial functional constituency seats in Legco, and whether a pan-democrat would be allowed to join the chief executive race under universal suffrage in 2017. Leung neither gave a promise nor predicted a timeframe for either eventuality.
'These reforms are a really big deal,' he said. 'Practically, there are a lot of things I have to do in the coming years, such as solve the problems named above. But what we can do is find a consensus on these reforms.'
He added: 'It is not a simple matter of which year.'
Leung reassured Hongkongers that freedom of expression would not be undermined during his term.
'I will try my best to defend the rights now enjoyed by Hongkongers, and this will be proved by my work in the coming five years,' he said.