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Basic Law

The Basic Law was drafted as part of the Sino-British Joint Declaration covering Hong Kong after its handover to China on July 1, 1997. The joint declaration stated that Hong Kong would be governed under the principle of ‘one country-two systems’ and would continue to enjoy its capitalist system and individual freedoms for 50 years after the handover.

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ELECTORAL REFORM

True democracy in Hong Kong is 'impossible', says Basic Law expert

Beijing's power to appoint leader cannot be ignored and must be clarified, says Albert Chen

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 December, 2013, 2:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 December, 2013, 5:09am

A balance must be struck between Hongkongers' right to vote and Beijing's power to appoint the chief executive when the time comes to select the city's next leader, a prominent Basic Law expert said yesterday.

Albert Chen Hung-yee, a member of the Basic Law Committee, was defending his proposal to allow the central government to appoint the 2017 chief executive candidate with the second highest number of ballots if it considers the winner to be unfit.

His proposal was driven by a desire to avoid a "divided Hong Kong, just like what has been happening in Thailand recently", Chen said.

"From the pan-democrats' perspective, they are fighting for a 'relatively perfect' democratic system," he said. "But I think it is impossible for democracy in Hong Kong to be completely the same as that of an independent country. Since Hong Kong is not independent, the design of its democratic system must fit its status under the 'one country, two systems' framework," Chen told TVB yesterday.

He also called for Beijing to set out "clear standards" for how it would exercise its power of appointment, as part of efforts to seek a balance between the rights of Hongkongers and Beijing.

"Since its power to appoint is a substantial one, it has to be exercised according to certain standards," Chen said. "It fits the principle of the rule of law … to announce [the standards] when the system of election by universal suffrage is being designed."

Article 45 of the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution, stipulates that the city's leader shall be elected and then "appointed by the central government".

It also states that when universal suffrage is introduced, candidates shall be put forward by "a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures".

Asked whether setting out appointment criteria could cause the nominating committee to bar candidates from running, Chen said: "It's not a bad thing if that happens, because Hong Kong people cannot force the central government to appoint someone it couldn't trust or accept as chief executive."

However, Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing told RTHK that "it is futile and repugnant to try to create a mechanism to bar people from standing for election".

Issues such as how to form a nominating committee and the definition of "democratic procedures" are expected to feature in the government's first consultation document on electoral reform, likely to be announced next week. Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said the administration hasn't disclosed its plans to the legislature yet.

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This article is now closed to comments

lucifer
What is he talking about? If Beijing repeated the Basic Law, it would stay out of HK local politics entirely. I guess it only matter if HK is an SAR.
johnh
with that hairstyle, it's obvious he's a CCP supporter
lenali2003
His opinion is quite true actually though I don't want this kind of universal suffrage.
prachish_c@hotmail.com
Doesn't anyone see that if Beijing can sidestep the winner of an election and pick the no.2, then there would be no point in having an election. No candidate who didn't have China's explicit support would bother to run since even winning doesn't assure winning!
wwong888
thanks but one look at this guy and i can tell you he doesn't speak for me
oxymoron19
Why try dying to avoid the inevitable? Resistance is futile. Just accept it and move on. "Let and let live" or migrate to other places free from China rule instead getting pinned down in this animal farm. Period.
boondeiyan
Tortuous pretzel logic used to be a mainland delicacy but now features among the HK "intelligentsia".
.
There is no ambiguity about either the structure or the process of representative democracy by means of universal suffrage. No amount of semantic contortion will change this. Let's hope HK people continue to reject fallacious appeals to democracy's imperfections: the point of self-determination is that people become responsible for themselves, good and bad.
Giwaffe
The purpose of the appointment system is to give acknowledgement to the formal power vested with Beijing. However, what Beijing conveniently forgets/fails to understand is that this power is intended to be purely ceremonial in nature, similar to the concept of royal assent in Commonwealth countries. This would certainly be what the UK had in mind when the Basic Law was negotiated. In the UK, all executive power is vested in the Crown, but in practice such power is fully delegated to and exercised by the government elected by the citizens.

Similarly, whoever the Hong Kong people elects as CE must be appointed by Beijing. Beijing is evidently confused with its intended role in the Basic Law and has therefore overstepped its bounds. Someone really needs to point out this confusion before it leads to greater befuddlement.

A second possibility is that Beijing is unable to wrap its head around such an elegant arrangement which takes care of issues such as "face", "power", and “autonomy”. Beijing gets face, Hong Kong gets autonomy, it’s a win-win scenario. Again, someone needs to point out the wonders of this arrangement so that the gents up in Beijing can save themselves from further embarrassment.
ianson
Chen is seriously thick. The appointment by Beijing is merely the mechanism essential to establishing sovereignty over Hong Kong. Beijing cannot use that part of the process to completely throw out the substantive part which is the fruit of the democratic election. 1C2S gives Beijing control of defence and foreign affairs and gives us this tiny 50-year window of opportunity. Refuse our elected candidate for any reason and you trash 1C2S and our constitution.
chuchu59
What we require is a compromise and CHEN's proposal could be one for starters to initiate discussions.

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