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  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 10:00am
NewsHong Kong
ELECTORAL REFORM

Beijing-loyalist Maria Tam says the right to be elected is not universal

Head of city's delegation to the NPC says central authorities may need to interpret Basic Law's provisions for universal suffrage

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 March, 2013, 8:25pm
UPDATED : Monday, 01 April, 2013, 4:02am

Veteran Basic Law Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu yesterday weighed in on the debate over how universal suffrage should be implemented in 2017, saying an interpretation of the Basic Law by Beijing could be the last option.

Speaking on a television talk show, the head of the Hong Kong delegation to the National People's Congress dismissed a UN Human Rights Committee's report on Hong Kong. The report expressed concern at the "lack of a clear plan to institute universal suffrage" and possible limits on who can stand for election.

Tam said the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights indicated that the right to vote, not the right to nominate or be elected, was universal.

Tam's remarks, seen as controversial, came after Qiao Xiaoyang , chairman of the National People's Congress Law Committee, hinted at introducing a screening mechanism ahead of the chief executive election in 2017.

Qiao also said that, under the "one country, two systems" principle, a chief executive had to "love the country and love Hong Kong", and that Beijing would have the final say on who became the city's chief.

During the talk show, Tam was asked whether Beijing should interpret the Basic Law to decide how universal suffrage would be carried out.

She responded: "The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress is very busy, and they try their best not to interpret the Basic Law.

"No one, including the central government … wants to do an interpretation of the Basic Law. But if there is a problem Hong Kong cannot solve by itself, then there is a need for an interpretation."

She also cited China's constitution, which mandated the Communist Party to govern the country according to socialism.

She added that under the Basic Law, the chief executive is accountable to the central government. Since the chief executive exercised the power entrusted to him by the constitution and the Basic Law, he had to respect both, she said.

"If you oppose the central government - that is, intend to overthrow the Communist Party or change the practice of socialism - you are violating the constitution and should not be allowed to exercise the powers [of the chief executive]," Tam said.

In response to the UN's concerns, Tam said Article 25(b) of the covenant was not applicable to Hong Kong because the British reserved the right not to apply it to the city in 1976. Later, Tam said on City Forum that by allowing every registered voter over the age of 18 years to vote, the requirements of the covenant on universal and equal suffrage would be met.

In response to a question from the media, a government spokesman echoed Tam's views, saying: "The ability for Hong Kong to achieve universal suffrage originates from the Basic Law and not the [UN covenant]."

Dr Benny Tai Yiu-ting, the University of Hong Kong legal scholar who is now planning the Occupy Central protest movement, slammed Tam's interpretation of the Basic Law as "contrary to common sense".

He pointed out that the UN says that every citizen shall have the right to vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections by universal suffrage.

Tam also expressed concern that the Occupy Central movement could reach a stage where it would be difficult for its organisers to keep control.

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This article is now closed to comments

lucifer
The fact fo the matter is that we in Hong Kong have been given a gift. The colonial administration helped us to establish a reliable system of law and efficient and corruption free civil service, a system with with checks and balances and the opportunity to rule ourselevs through a democratic process. Democratic reforms up north may well take decades or may only come about after a violent uprising agianst the established dictatorship. We hhere should dfend this gift we have with our souls and not waste this opportunity. If we give it away so easily, it will likely be gone forever. Cherish what you have.
hkiedlib
The SCMP reports that Qiao says a chief executive had to "love the country and love Hong Kong", and that Beijing would have the final say on who became the city's chief. I think what Qiao really means is that a chief executive must love the Communist Party. If this is the case why doesn’t he come out and say it rather than keep up the pretence that Hong Kong will be given real universal sufferage in 2017? Please Mr Qiao speak the truth!
hard times !
hkiedlib has clearly and correctly pointed out what Old Guy Qiao meant by,'loving the country' actually is 'loving the Chinese Communist Party goevernmet '---the autocratic corrupted ruling regime which is most unwilling to give we Hongkongers a geniune universal suffrage for fear that once Hong Kong can enjoy democracy, the rest of China will follow suit---and become another Taiwan !
hard times !
Maria Tam Wai-chu won by a good margin in that City Forum debate held by RTHK ? WHAT A JOKE ! Her arguments were both weak and without any proofs or legality at all ! Just repeated and repeated what Qiao Xiaoyang had uttered before only ! Like a tape-recorder ! Being an experienced barrister in town and an Exco.& Legco plus district councillor during the Colonial rule of last century, she should be ashamed of herself and her ethics (not to say morality)--an opportunist/speculator in politics to gain benefits for herself only !
hard times !
This old maid named Maria Tam (though an experienced barrister in town) is deliberately misleading innocent Hongkongers and all the qualified voters by saying that Article 25(b) of the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights indicated 'the right to vote, not the right to nominate or be elected in a universal suffrage '---(a geniune one of course). She is telling lies in broad daylight.Don't be fooled by her words uttered from a loyalist mindset !
hard times !
Tam should have every reason to express her concern /worry that the civil-disobedience (Gandhi-typed) 'Occupy Central'movement---a non-violent peaceful protest staged once our geniune universal suffrage is not allowed, could reach a stage when it would be difficult for its organisers to keep control-----no problem at all since our Tsang Wai-hung had warned us force would be used to clear up the scene already. Besides,the two recent military drills of the stationed PLAs in Vitorica Harbour and the wates off Lamma Island was a show of force/threat towards any Hongkongers who dare to joinr the Movement or even turn it into a riot !
hard times !
This Tam Wai-chu is a Beijing loyalist or Hong Kong traitor who betrays most Hong Kong people's interests ? I wonder.
hard times !
'the United Nations' International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights indicates the right to vote, not the right to nominate or be elected'----according to Maria Tam Wai-chu (head of Hongkong's delegation to the NPC),.a local former Exco.& Legco member plus district councillor in the eighties of last century during the British colonial rule.She was once called a three-sector councillor ! Yet she changed side after being invited to join the Basic Law Drafting Committee. Is she an political opportunist or a sudden patriot ? God knows.
hard times !
Nobody in town with sense should take old maid Maria Tam's words seriously ! What is she indeed ? The so-called Basic Law Committee deputy director ( an appointed post---an honorary one of course) has never attemped to defend the interests of we Hongkongers ! Instead, she used to and is still a mouthpiece(like Tai Kung Pao or Man Wui Pao) of her Beijing master who has well-treated her these years ----just like a pet dog ! Right ?
rpasea
Who cares what Maria Tam thinks?
caractacus
Here it comes: the start of the intended perversion of the Basic Law: Orwell's "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
henleyhk
It's obvious that the commies, already resorting to lies and threats, are really scared. I think they know that they don't have a leg to stand on and that the tide of history is flowing against them. Unfortunately, by resisting the will of the HK people, they are risking another middle-class exodus; but I am sure they would prefer an exodus to giving self determination. But that doesn't mean that HK people should give up without a fight.
ruthleelsf
Such blatant distortion of basic concepts of democracy and reversal of what have been promised can only happen in an autocratic system where grievances from injustices prevail - but - it won't be for long. Look at the apartheid in S.Africa and the Soviet Bloc, it may be painful and unpleasant for the average HKongers but we shouldn't be scared by fear-mongers such as Tam. Hers is a role that resemble the triads placing a pot of tangerine in front of your store expecting you to pay due to fear. No fear if we think it is just in our hearts.
22gt7
but Article 25 of the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions to vote "and to be elected" at genuine periodic elections which shall be "by universal and equal suffrage" and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors...
So was Maria Tam correct in her saying that the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights indicated that the right to vote, not the right to nominate or be elected, was universal?
hard times !
fully agree with jpinst that a Constitutional interpretation of our Basic Law related to the election of chief executive is not required.As everybody knows,'loving the country and Hong Kong' is not written in the Basic Law, so does the conditon:confrontational towards Central authorities.Both are not articles in the Basic Law---our paramount law. So any pre-requisite of candidates for the election in 2017 can not be accepted at all !
ejmciii
My guess is that within the Central Government there are a host of situations where people in positions of power disagree on policy and implementation of policy. Are these people seeking to overthrow the government? No, they just have a sincere desire to see that policies are in the best interests of the people. So how can one say that a person who has opposed policies of the CE is seeking to overthrow the government? Similarly, what is "socialism" as used in the Constitution? It clearly has changed from the ideals that Mao and the nation's founders saw. The nature of socialism changed with Deng, with Jiang and with Hu/Wen. France and Italy arguably have socialist governments. Which is the socialism that is intended. Having different ideas that you share with the Central government as being in the best interests of the people of HK, which is a part of the nation, is hardly counter-revolutionary but rather what Beijing should be seeking is that those voices be heard and implemented into a cohesive policy that maintains harmony in the Mainland and in HK. Top down orders from Beijing via their appointed shill, directing HK people to obey or else hardly is harmonious.
hard times !
my close friend,pflim040 told me he has been hacked by an unscurpulous hacker for 13 times. Yesterday,he recieved an e-mail from an unknown guy (.com.br) asking him to transfer a mysterious attached file to others.How weird it is ! Of course it is a dirty trick attempting to make his computer be spread with virus once he is curious and open that attached file which he didn't. The nasty hacker might probably be not a geniune Hongkonger who knows nothing about Hong Kong people ! What a shame ! If one doesn't understand the customs or practices of a certain place's people,how can he/she tackle/trick them ? He failed once again this morning ! ha ! ha !
lucifer
A Consitutional interpreation is not required for every issue that faces society or the government. Unless government action or law is challenged, then an interpretation may be possible. Furthrmore, it should not even be challeneged until the Court of Final Appeal at least has a consitutional question in front of it.The eagerness of the Hk government to run to the legislative branch in Beijing for interpetations undermines Hong Kong's legal system and the authority of Hong Kong courts.
Hollander323
I think those readers making comments here, most if not all, have watched the forum themselves. During the forum Maria Tam made good presentation about the legality on what Mr Qiao Xiaoyang , chairman of the National People's Congress Law Committee, have said about election for CE in 2017. But on the other hand, the 2 guests who spoke against, Mr. Lau Yui Siu and Chu Yiu Ming, were rather weak in their arguments and defense.
Very sorry, as far as the debate goes, Ms Maria Tam won by a good margin.
(Go to RHKTV to review the programme to check this out)
fsk999

****www.china.org.
The election system here refers to the way citizens choose public servants of the state. The election system of the People’s Republic of China here refers to the election of deputies to the people’s congresses at various levels.
The election of deputies to the people’s congresses includes general local election and the election of deputies from the armed forces, in the special administrative regions and among Taiwan compatriots.
The general election is applicable to the choice of local deputies and deputies in ethnic self-government areas.
I. The right to vote and stand for election
1. The right to vote and stand for election
(1) Obtaining the right to vote and stand for election
1) Direct right to vote and stand for election
All citizens of the People’s Republic of China who have reached the age of 18 have the right to vote and stand for election, regardless of ethnic status, race, sex, occupation, family background, religious belief, education, property status or length of residence.
Those who have been convicted to prison terms, are serving short-term forced labor under detention or have been put under surveillance but have not been stripped of their political rights; those who are in custody, under investigation, being charged and tried but the procuratorate or the court has not decided to suspend their rights of election; those who are on bail, or in residences under surveillance; those who are being reeducated through labor and tho
fsk999
continues: those who are being reeducated through labor and those who have been punished with detention have the right to vote and stand for election.

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