A step-by-step procedure

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 April, 2004, 12:00am

I refer to the letter 'Who is to initiate change?' (April 8), which disagrees with Audrey Eu Yuet-mee's understanding of Annex I, Clause 7 of the Basic Law on the method for selection of the chief executive.

This clause says any amendment for change must be made with the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of the Legislative Council and the consent of the chief executive, and be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for approval.

Ms Eu's understanding of the clause - as a three-step process, to which two steps have now been added - is based on common sense. If one looks at Hong Kong ordinances, when procedures are construed, one follows another in the sequence they are written.

On the face of it, amendments approved by the Standing Committee will already be part of the law, so why do we still need Legco to endorse them? Will they be null and void without Legco's approval?

On Article 74, is the method of selecting the holder of a key post related to political structure, or is it simply an election matter? Will the change of an election method alter how government organisations are structured? Taking and respecting Vincent Chan's view on Article 74, and putting it together with Articles 45 and 68, one can only conclude that the Basic Law was badly drafted.

If his opinion serves to support the Standing Committee, there is no longer such a need, as the committee has already interpreted the clause in such a way that it should not be read literally in the common-law sense or with common sense. Let us move on, based on what the committee told us rather than what is in the clause.