Wanted: a whole new political system

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2005, 12:00am

Regardless of who becomes chief executive, Hong Kong's political system is flawed and Beijing should redesign it to improve governance, says the former leader of the main pro-government party, Tsang Yok-sing.

The Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong legislator hopes to convince Beijing the Basic Law is founded on the wrong political model - though he said he could understand why the central government might disagree.

'Any idea implying a need to amend the Basic Law is still taboo. Realistically, the possibility of major reform of the system in the next two or even seven years is slim,' Mr Tsang admitted.

Still, he hopes at least to get debate going early on changing the system.

Mr Tsang, a member of the Executive Council, took issue with mainland legal expert Xu Chongde , who said two weeks ago he hoped the next chief executive would be daring in his use of the powers vested in the executive under the Basic Law.

Professor Xu's view reflected one line of thinking in Beijing - that the executive-led system had not yet functioned as originally envisaged because former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa did not show strong leadership.

Mr Tsang challenged Professor Xu to provide concrete examples of when executive powers had not been well exercised.

He is convinced the problem with the political system stems from its design, not its implementation.

He said the Basic Law drafters made a serious mistake by simply replicating the colonial system based on the hope it would function as effectively after 1997 as before - which he said had proved wishful thinking.

'A more sensible way forward is to conduct a thorough review. Many people will not agree to inviting foreign experts. [But] why not get people with no preconceived ideas to take an objective look at the present system and to design a workable model?'

He said issues needing review include the composition of the Executive Council, the number of ministers in the government, the administration's relationship with the Legislative Council and the role of political parties.

Mr Tsang admitted it would not be easy to overcome the fear of change. But he said: 'I'm optimistic about the long term. The present leadership has no historical baggage over the Hong Kong issue. They have no fingerprints on the present system and would be more objective.

'They would certainly find the present system unsound and [agree] there is a need to design a more sensible model under 'one country, two systems'.'