Hong Kong legislature can only move forward if all parties agree to cooperate

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 December, 2016, 4:26pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 December, 2016, 11:04pm

As a sympathetic observer of Hong Kong and a one-time adviser to the Legislative Council, I feel impelled to comment on recent events which unfolded during my week-long stay in the city.

My concern is that, as a result of the imbroglio over the oath-taking, lasting damage will be done to the Legislative Council which, over the years, has served the people of Hong Kong – of all shades of opinion – well.

Legco has operated within the framework of the Basic Law, incorporating as it does the principle of “one country, two systems.”

That involves everyone respecting the provisions of the Basic Law but also accepting the autonomy of the Special Administrative Region to develop its own “system”, which includes progress to universal suffrage as the basis of election both of the chief executive and the assembly itself.

Candidates for the office of lawmaker must accept the constitutional requirements of the Basic Law.

Nevertheless, a significant element of the “two systems” is a recognition of the importance of a legislative body that is not controlled or manipulated by the executive.

It is in the interests of government to recognise that the will of the people, expressed in the election of lawmakers, is a vital part of what has so far been a viable system.

All political institutions go through periods of change and even turbulence.

Rather than seeing this as weakening them, they should be seen as part of a process of evolution.

But the evolution will only result in progress if all parties involved have a willingness to cooperate.

“One country, two systems” provides a shared platform for the continuing development of Legco as a successful institution for the benefit of the people of Hong Kong, as long as the principle incorporated in it is genuinely upheld by all sides.

Sir Malcolm Jack, London, England