Nominating committee for 2017 election can play cohesive role
Hilton Cheong-Leen says it can help cut the risk of conflict with Beijing
The Hong Kong Civic Association was founded 60 years ago to promote economic, social and cultural issues, democratic values and the democratic way of life, at a time when Hong Kong was still a British colony. Since the handover in 1997, there has been steady progress in our political structure.
The people of Hong Kong now look forward to the prospect of electing the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017. We believe the method for selection should be in accordance with the Basic Law and the relevant decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
We have high regard for democratic systems in other countries. Equally, we believe that Hong Kong's political development should follow the Basic Law and the "one country, two systems" principle so that our capitalist system will work on the basis of mutual regard and co-operation with the mainland's socialist system.
For Hong Kong to stay relevant in today's era of global change, we must evolve our own system of capitalism and democratic development.
Under the Basic Law and the "one country, two systems" principle, the next chief executive will have a dual role of being responsible to the central government that appoints him and to the people of Hong Kong who elect him by universal suffrage.
For the city to continue on a path of sustainable development, it must have leadership with vision, determination and political will to bring all sides together to work for the common good.
The cohesive and balancing role of the nominating committee in the chief executive election is a crucial factor in nominating candidates who will have the background, skills and capability in working with Beijing and the different ministers.
Having a nominating committee will reduce the risk of a constitutional crisis or divisive political confrontation between Beijing and Hong Kong.
In accordance with the principle of "gradual and orderly progress", as stated in Article 45 of the Basic Law, the nominating committee should select a minimum of two and a maximum of four candidates. With the experience gained from the 2017 election, it should be possible to modify and improve the system for the next chief executive election, in 2022, when there could be a wider choice of credible candidates in the political spectrum.
In future, we hope that all members of the Legislative Council, whatever their political views, can engage more with Beijing to build greater understanding and mutual trust. The exchange of views at the recent Shanghai meeting between central government officials and the 10 Legco members from the democratic camp was a good start.
In time, Hong Kong will need leaders from the democratic camp and others groups to make our city more globally competitive and raise people's living standards.
Article 44 of the Basic Law states that the chief executive shall be a Chinese citizen. As such, he or she must be loyal to the country and the central government. We do not consider "loving the country, loving Hong Kong" to be a legal qualification or a matter of law. Rather, in essence, it represents patriotism to country at the national level and to Hong Kong at the local level. In this context, a patriot is someone who is devoted to, and ready to support and serve, his or her country.
In 2017, it will have been 20 years since Hong Kong became a special administrative region. All sectors of the community need to impress upon our legislators, political parties and other groups the necessity of working with the central and SAR governments to make election by universal suffrage a reality for the sustainable future of Hong Kong and its seven million citizens.
Hilton Cheong-Leen is president of the Hong Kong Civic Association