Leung Chun-ying

Hong Kong does not need British support on reform: Leung snubs UK offer

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 September, 2013, 3:04pm

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Hong Kong does not need British support on political reform and warned that foreign intervention could backfire in the process of overhauling the electoral system.

The strong statement came a day after Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor rebuffed British Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire, who wrote in the South China Morning Post on Friday that on electoral reform, it was important for Hongkongers to be given a "genuine choice". Swire offered support for a "smooth resolution" to the question of universal suffrage.

After a meet-the-public session in Wan Chai yesterday, Leung said "Hong Kong doesn't need the British [or] any other foreign government's support".

Leung, a former secretary general of the Basic Law Consultative Committee, said that "electing the chief executive by universal suffrage is an ultimate goal stated in the Basic Law".

"The term 'universal suffrage' didn't appear in the [1984 Sino-British] Joint Declaration," which only stated that the chief executive would be appointed by Beijing "on the basis of the results of elections or consultations to be held locally", he said, citing the agreement on the city's future.

"So [it] is a matter [only for] the people [of Hong Kong], the SAR government, and the National People's Congress. It has nothing to do with the British or any foreign government.

"For any foreign official who wants to participate or intervene, the past experience is very clear - it will only do the opposite for Hong Kong's political reform, including the people they wanted to support or influence," he said.

Leung also reiterated that the administration remained determined to achieve universal suffrage in 2017 in accordance with the Basic Law and that there was still time for public consultation.

During the session, Leung, housing minister Anthony Cheung Bing-leung and welfare minister Matthew Cheung Kin-chung responded to 15 questions on issues including housing, the environment and elderly care.

In his opening remarks, Leung dismissed a pan-democrat call for a review of the one- way permit scheme, which allows 150 mainlanders a day to reunite with their families, and which has been blamed for pushing up the city's property prices.

Leung said that even if Hong Kong shut its doors to new immigrants, there were still about 230,000 people waiting for a public home, "so the key is to find land to build houses, not just public housing, but also private ones". He added that the government would review the use of land plots "one by one", including abandoned ones and golf courses in the New Territories, while seeking to reclaim land.

Environment undersecretary Christine Loh Kung-wai revealed the government was planning to set up environmental protection centres for each of the city's 18 districts to support social enterprises focused on environmental protection and waste reduction.