Hong Kong residents should not be surprised if the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress exercises its power to scrutinise local laws, veteran Beijing loyalist Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said yesterday.
Fan's view echoed that of Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, made in an article last week on the implementation of "one country, two systems".
That opinion was "hugely misleading", Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said, as the power of the NPC Standing Committee to review Hong Kong legislation was limited under the Basic Law.
Fan, who also sits on the committee, said the national legislature had been "relatively lax" in wielding its power and might take a "more rigid" approach.
"The article might be reminding us that there exists an arrangement [for the committee to scrutinise local laws], so that we won't be surprised when the power is exercised," she told TVB show On the Record.
Under Article 17 of the Basic Law, laws enacted by the Legislative Council must be reported to the NPC Standing Committee.
The committee may return a law related to foreign affairs, national defence or mainland-Hong Kong relations if it is judged inconsistent with Hong Kong's mini-constitution.
Of the more than 500 new laws enacted since the handover, none had been returned by the committee.
Leong said he was "taken aback" by Fan's remarks.
"It gives Hong Kong people the impression that the Standing Committee holds wider powers than it has, to monitor local legislation," he said. "This is simply not the case.
"We should stick with the Basic Law, which is the ultimate safeguard of 'one country, two systems'."