More democratic poll in 2012 called for in report to British MPs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 September, 2008, 12:00am

The British foreign secretary has called for significant progress in making Hong Kong's 2012 election arrangements more democratic.

David Miliband's appeal comes in his latest report on the city, where he also calls for more opportunities for all legislators to visit the mainland.

In the six-monthly report, presented to the British Parliament yesterday, Mr Miliband wrote of his impression that Hongkongers 'are strongly committed to the rights and freedoms they enjoy'.

'The issue of constitutional development was high on Hong Kong's agenda at the time of my visit [in February]. I hope that, following the next round of consultation, the special administrative region government will put forward proposals that would represent significant progress in making arrangements for the elections in 2012 more democratic.

'This will be important in preparing for the introduction of full universal suffrage for the elections of the chief executive in 2017 and the Legislative Council in 2020,' wrote Mr Miliband, who also welcomed the Hong Kong government's 'determination to achieve this goal'.

Elections will be held in 2012 to select the Legislative Council and the chief executive.

The regular report on Hong Kong was instituted just before the handover to reflect the British government's continuing responsibilities to the people of the city, as stated in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

In the foreword to the latest report - the 23rd - Mr Miliband noted the trip made to Sichuan by a Legco delegation shortly after the devastating earthquake in May.

'I hope that the Chinese authorities will, in future, allow all legislators who wish to visit the mainland to do so, to further develop dialogue and understanding,' he wrote.

A spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said in a statement that the government would decide when to consult the public on the 2012 electoral model in the fourth quarter of this year, but did not say when the consultation itself would take place.

The electoral model for the election of the chief executive in 2017 would be addressed by the administration that took over in 2012, and the model for electing lawmakers in 2020 would be addressed by the government that took over in 2017, the spokesman said.

The British report also noted that foreign nationals, including two Britons, were denied entry to Hong Kong in April in the days leading up to the Olympic torch relay passing through the city.

Mr Miliband wrote that 'such exclusions risked giving the impression that freedom of expression was being compromised, and this could damage Hong Kong's international reputation'.

Separately, a spokesman for the British consul general congratulated candidates who were successful in the Legco election on Sunday.