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NPC deputy warns on drastic reforms

NEWLY-NOMINATED deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), Mr Wong Man-kong, said yesterday Hongkong should not seek drastic changes to its existing political system.

Mr Wong, president of Hongkong Ferry, said Hongkong had a sound economic foundation which enabled it to carry out reform step by step.

A committee member of the conservative New Hongkong Alliance, Mr Wong had been a supporter of the controversial bicameral model for the post-1997 legislature during the drafting of the Basic Law.

He was a former member of the Group of 89, a coalition of businessmen and professionals in the Basic Law drafting committee which favoured a slower pace of democracy.

Mr Wong said the political development of Hongkong should take a conservative approach, rather than sweeping changes.

''In Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the economic condition was so poor that drastic change had to be introduced,'' he said.

''But in the case of Hongkong, the situation is different, we have time to introduce reform gradually.

''We should not seek democracy for the sake of democracy, but should see it as a way to improve our livelihood.'' Mr Wong, also a standing committee member of the Guangdong People's Congress, said the provincial position had given him the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of the province.

''It is a very meaningful appointment at a time when Guangdong is at the forefront of the country's reform and open door policy,'' he said.

As a new NPC deputy from Hongkong, he hoped he would be able to offer the central government different opinions on Hongkong issues, particularly those regarding stocks and property.

''Following the experience in Guangdong, I believe I will be able to get a better understanding of China as a whole if I am elected to the NPC,'' he said.

Mr Wong said since the tenure of the newly elected NPC members would straddle 1997, he anticipated them to play a more active role in local politics.

''We will make use of our positions in the national legislature to promote mutual understanding between Hongkong and other regions of China,'' Mr Wong said.

Local NPC delegates could also make use of their position in the assembly to improve understanding of Hongkong among regional authorities on the mainland, he said.