City liaison office deputy defends HK delegates
Gary Cheung and Eva Wu
It was natural for Hong Kong members of the nation's legislature and top advisory body to take part in Hong Kong affairs and offer advice because they were 'duty-bound' to do so as members of the public, a mainland official said yesterday.
Li Gang, deputy director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, said there was nothing strange about greater participation in the city's affairs by National People's Congress deputies and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegates.
He was responding to the row sparked by a report that the Hong Kong government and the liaison office had reached a 10-point agreement on the functions and role of local CPPCC delegates.
The pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po reported last week that Li Guikang, another deputy director of the liaison office, told delegates the office had reached consensus with the Hong Kong administration on measures strengthening CPPCC delegates' roles. These included the future nomination of delegates by the Hong Kong government and the appointment of CPPCC delegates to public offices in the city.
Li Guikang denied there was such an agreement. Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung also said no agreement had been reached.
Vice-President Xi Jinping said two weeks ago that Hong Kong's representatives should provide ideas for the city's government on how to counter the financial crisis.
Li Gang said yesterday it was natural for local members to take part in Hong Kong affairs and they were duty-bound to do so.
'It is not only a duty for the delegates,' he said. 'All Hong Kong residents have the right to give advice to the Hong Kong government.
'There is no need to view the greater participation of the NPC and CPPCC delegates in Hong Kong affairs as a strange thing.'
Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said Li Gang had attempted to divert the public's attention from whether there was such an agreement.
'Nobody is opposing the participation by CPPCC and NPC deputies in Hong Kong affairs but they should not enjoy any prerogatives in Hong Kong because of their capacity,' Mr Ho said.
Independent lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee expressed concern over the participation of delegates in city affairs, saying it might exert pressure on the Hong Kong government.
Mrs Ip said she was worried that it could put the chief executive in a difficult situation.
Wong Ting-kwong from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said some Hongkongers were too sensitive over the matter.
'The chief executive takes it as a usual practice to canvass opinions from the delegates to the NPC and the CPPCC,' he said.
'I don't see any political pressure in their exchanges.'