Basic Law ruling crucial to HK: mainland official

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 April, 2005, 12:00am

An interpretation of the Basic Law over the tenure of the next chief executive by the National People's Congress Standing Committee is an integral part of Hong Kong's rule of law, a senior state official said yesterday.

Chen Zuoer , deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, made the statement ahead of the NPC Standing Committee's four-day meeting, starting today, which will address the Basic Law interpretation.

Mr Chen pointed out that the chief executive was appointed by the central government after being elected.

'I think the NPC Standing Committee's interpretation of the Basic Law meets the interests of the country and Hong Kong,' he said on the sidelines of the annual Boao Forum in Hainan .

'The NPC Standing Committee's interpretation of the Basic Law is an important constituent of Hong Kong's rule of law.'

Also attending the Boao Forum, acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday met fellow participants including former Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan .

Mr Tsang said both were concerned about Hong Kong's political situation, especially the chief executive election scheduled for July 10.

'I've told them that we have made thorough preparations and we're confident that the by-election will be carried out smoothly,' he said.

In protest against the imminent interpretation of the Basic Law, several thousand Hong Kong people are expected to take part in a march today organised by the Civil Human Rights Front. Starting at 3pm, protesters will march from Chater Gardens in Central to the central government's liaison office in Western.

When asked about the protest yesterday, Zhou Junming , deputy director of the office, said priority should be put on building a harmonious society.

Meanwhile, Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung reiterated that an interpretation by the NPC could prevent uncertainties surrounding the election caused by legal challenges.

He was speaking at a Legco Bills Committee meeting scrutinising the amendment setting the new chief executive's term as the remainder of Tung Chee-hwa's term rather than a new five-year term. Seventeen groups attended.

Independent lawmaker Philip Wong Yu-hong challenged Democrat Gary Fan Kwok-wai to support his allegations that NPC interpretations had deterred foreign investors from Hong Kong by undermining the city's rule of law. He said census figures showed an increase in the number of foreign investors.