Wu Bangguo

NPC chief had elections in mind, Basic Law panellist confirms

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 June, 2007, 12:00am


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Comments this week by the National People's Congress chairman about the limits to Hong Kong's autonomy were directed at the question of universal suffrage, says one of the Basic Law Committee members who heard Wu Bangguo speak in Beijing on Wednesday.

Ng Hong-mun said the 12 members of the Basic Law Committee - a Beijing-appointed body responsible for advising on matters related to the interpretation and amendment of the city's mini-constitution - had met on Thursday to discuss the remarks by the NPC chief, made at a forum in Beijing to mark the 10th anniversary of the Basic Law's implementation.

Mr Ng, a veteran NPC deputy, noted that some in Hong Kong had taken universal suffrage to be a matter for the city to decide.

He said Mr Wu had been seeking to reiterate a principle of the 'one country, two systems' formula - that the city's powers were authorised by the central government.

'The chief executive is not only accountable to Hong Kong, but also should be accountable to Beijing. Therefore, whoever will be chief executive of the special administrative region must be acceptable to Beijing,' he said. That was why the Basic Law stipulated a nominating committee should vet candidates for chief executive.

Mr Ng said some Hong Kong people had painted a distorted picture of the powers of the central government regarding universal suffrage.

'They think universal suffrage is a matter for Hong Kong, a subject that does not involve Beijing and that the central government has to appoint a chief executive returned by universal suffrage no matter who that person is,' he said.

Because of this, it was better that the power of the central government to appoint the chief executive be made clear to all Hong Kong people, and that they understood the city's government would always be executive-led, before they cast their votes.

The NPC chairman told the Beijing forum there was no question of the city being entitled to 'residual power' - room for manoeuvre in areas not overtly granted to it by Beijing.

His remarks drew concern that overseas investors' confidence in Hong Kong as an international financial centre could be affected.

In response to the concerns, Lu Xinhua , Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, said the city's people should interpret Mr Wu's remarks positively, since everything the central government said and did concerning Hong Kong was for the city's benefit.