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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.

NewsHong Kong

Public nomination 'could violate Beijing's requirement of "balanced participation"'

Rimsky Yuen hints that pan-democrats’ plan for public nomination may not be workable, as propaganda chief mentions Beijing’s powers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 January, 2014, 3:13am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 January, 2014, 3:02pm

The justice chief yesterday cited a fresh argument against public nomination of candidates for chief executive as Beijing’s Hong Kong propaganda chief highlighted China's power to declare a “state of emergency” if it ever deemed the government had lost control of the city.

As the debate on electoral reform in Hong Kong continued to heat up, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung stopped short of dismissing the concept of public nomination as unconstitutional, suggesting that the three-track proposal floated by pan-democrats on Wednesday - which would allow for nominations from the public and political parties that would be approved as a formality by the nominating committee - could go against the mini-constitution.

Allowing the public to nominate candidates could violate Beijing's requirement of "balanced participation", Yuen said.

"Someone suggested - I'm not saying this is necessarily the case - that it's very likely that candidates with the backing of a big political party, or a big bloc, will have stronger financial power and mobilisation power."

This might lead to candidates securing nominations only from a particular sector or social class. "Will this be inconsistent with the principle of balanced participation as decided by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress?" Yuen asked.

Yuen's comments came as Hao Tiechuan, the publicity director of the central government's liaison office, highlighted Beijing's power - granted by Article 18 of the Basic Law - to impose a "state of emergency" if it deemed that the city's government had lost control and national unity or security was endangered.

Hao did not say if his remarks were in response to pan-democrats' planned Occupy Central campaign.

At a separate event, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen denied that Yuen's remarks contradicted his own previous comments. "I have never said whether anything contravenes the Basic Law or not," he said.

On the Alliance for True Democracy's three-track proposal, Yuen said the suggestion that the nominating committee should merely approve public and party nominations could, in fact, be unconstitutional.

"If the nominating committee ... has no choice but to confirm, as a matter of formality, [all] the nominations that got a certain [share] of the public's support ... this stands a high chance of violating the Basic Law," he said.

Pan-democrats have been split this week over whether to treat all three tracks of the proposal as "indispensable", with alliance convenor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek refusing to clarify the matter.

The Democratic Party has opposed bundling the three channels, drawing criticism from the People Power group and the League of Social Democrats.

Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said party members remained focused on fighting for a reform proposal that would allow people of different political beliefs to run for chief executive.


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This article is now closed to comments

Personally, I have to say that the government is doing a great job for those who appointed them. I hope the Communist Party in Beijing is happy with their performance because it is clear they are not working in the best interests of the people of Hong Kong. And kudos to the Propaganda Minister for cutting through the ribbons and bows and getting to the point of the Communist Party's message: Whatever we agreed to in the Basic Law will be followed only for so long and to the extent that it suits us. Gotta love it.
It's Rimsky vs Elsie in the race for HK's worst-ever SJ... come back Wong Yan-lung, all is forgiven!
Can the SJ provide a full legal analysis of his views please? Simply providing a vague comment is simply inadequate and smacks of jumping on the bandwagon of the knee- jerk comments from the Central Liaison Office!
A State of Emergency would not only put the final nail in the coffin of democratic development (which Beijing and its cronies really want) but it would also put the final nail in Hong Kong's coffin. Where would all the capital and people with foreign passports go? They would vote with their feet and their money.
Total fear mongering propaganda by HKSAR and central government officials with respects to Beijing 'losing control' in Hong Kong. No matter what the nomination committee does or does not do, under the Basic Law no chief executive elect can be seated as chief executive without the central authorities action. If HK's elects someone they don't like they just don't have to approve the election. Simple. Moreover, the Basic Law provides the central government the power to appoint a chief executive simply on the basis of local consultations - without even an election. Thus, the Central Government has full control over the process and over the HKSAR insofar as the selection of its principal officers. However, for them to execute either of these powers would be blatantly heavy handed and put the final nail in the coffin of the illusion of universal suffrage or limited democracy in HK. They would look bad, even worse because the public would have rejected the status quo of the last 17 years, and the principle of Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong would be utterly torn asunder by an even more undemocratic appointment process than currently exists.
Where in the Basic law is Beijing's requirement of "balanced participation"? True to form, they keep moving the goalposts.


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