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Governor must amend political reform plans

SINCE Governor Chris Patten put forward his political reform package on October 7, 1992, both the political and economic realms have been plunged into an abyss of anxiety.

Uncertainties over our political future, partially dispelled after the promulgation of the Basic Law in 1990, have been resurrected.

In order to sustain our prosperous economy, the political dispute between the British-Hongkong governments and the Chinese Government must be settled as soon as possible.

It is an undeniable fact that Hongkong is an economic miracle.

Yet, due to historical developments, the people of Hongkong can do little on their own about their political future.

As a result we are forced to leave our future well-being in the hands of Britain and China, placing our trust in the assurances of both that the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law would guarantee a smooth transition through the convergence of political, social, economic and administrative arrangements before and after 1997.

Unfortunately, as Sino-British relations deteriorate, the mutual trust and co-operation between them are likely to vanish as well.

In addition, the confrontational attitude adopted by both governments has created an atmosphere of unease, anxiety and even fear in the community.

Consequently, both domestic and foreign investors have lost confidence.

This has already been reflected in the dramatic drop in the financial market.

Since a prosperous economy built on fragile political foundations can easily be destroyed, the Co-operative Resources Centre has endeavoured to do something to help break the deadlock by proposing solutions acceptable to both sides.

We believe that the best way for China and Britain to resume negotiations is to amend the proposals for political reform.

According to the oft-repeated statements of the British Government and the Governor, the proposals, are merely proposals, not decisions.

To demonstrate that they mean what they say, they should initiate amendments to the proposals in the light of views expressed so far.

After taking into consideration the Basic Law, the agreements and understanding reached between the two sides, as well as the consistent policies of Britain and China towards convergence of the political systems before and after 1997, and the views of the community, we have formulated the following amendments: On the Election Committee to fill the 10 Legco seats, we agree with the five principles adopted by China and Britain as indicated in their exchange of letters in January and February of 1990, as well as their arrangements for the proportions of various sectors of the community to be represented in the committee. Discussions on the finer details of these arrangements should take place as soon as possible.

As for the new functional constituencies, we believe the proposals outlined by the Governor to be a departure from the spirit of the 1984 and 1988 White Papers on the Development of Representative Government in Hongkong.

We support the view that elections in the new and existing functional constituencies should be as open and as democratic as possible. But we also believe that their definition and scope as contained in the White Papers should be adhered to.

We also believe that the proposed abolition of appointed seats in district boards and the municipal councils should be deferred.

Failure to resolve the current dispute will deepen the sense of instability over the territory. For this reason we shall table our amendments at the appropriate time when the bills are before the Legislative Council.

Both Britain the China have an obligation to make good on their promise of a smooth transition as set out in the Joint Declaration.

We hope both governments will remove the obstacles in their path towards a solution of their dispute and the restoration of a stable political climate which is the key to sustaining the economic miracle of Hongkong.

HENRY TANG YING-YEN Co-operative Resources Centre