Beijing urged to review role of councils

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 12:00am

Beijing should be called on to give an interpretation of the role of district councils under the Basic Law, according to one legislator.

Criticising the Government's District Council review, which last week offered them an advisory role but no decision-making powers, Andrew Wong Wang-fat accused the Government of misinterpreting the councils' roles under the SAR's mini-constitution.

The non-affiliated lawmaker, also a university political science lecturer, warned that the Government would be nurturing an 'irresponsible political culture' if councillors were expected to tender advice without accountability.

'This is the first time that officials have been so blatant to say that the district councils are only advisory,' he said.

'I hope to see legal advice on the interpretation of the Basic Law's article . . . Beijing's National People's Congress should be asked to give an interpretation.'

Emily Lau Wai-hing, of the Frontier, was also critical that the role of the councils, the lowest-tier in the political structure, had not been reviewed from a broader constitutional perspective.

But Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Robin Ip Man-fai said Article 97 of the Basic Law made clear that the councils were supposed to be consulted by the Government on district administration only.

'Ultimately, they are advisory bodies rather than administrative structure,' Mr Ip told the Legco Home Affairs panel.