THE media recently reported that the United Democrats of Hongkong planned to raise a motion in the Legislative Council calling for a public referendum on political reforms. This move was inspired by Mr Martin Lee Chu-ming and other so-called democratic politicians. The call for a public referendum comes whenever the territory's political debate reaches a crucial juncture. Hongkong today is facing the problem of whether the political development of the territory should converge with the Basic Law. The debate has reached a point where the stability of Hongkong may be threatened during the transition of political power from the British to the Chinese Government. The UDHK is determined to raise the referendum motion in the Legislative Council on April 21. But it is illegal to conduct a public referendum in Hongkong. Firstly, it is against British constitutional law before 1997, there being no rule that public referendums can be used as a way to decide Hongkong affairs. Secondly, it is against the Basic Law. The constitutional law of the Hongkong Special Administrative Region clearly defines the gradual progress of the democratic development of the Hongkong political system. Besides, the Sino-British Joint Declaration clearly states the British Government has to aim at maintaining the prosperity and stability of Hongkong when exercising its management powers before 1997. The handover of the sovereignty of Hongkong on July 1,1997, and the resumption of China's sovereignty means a public referendum is illegal. Not only is a public referendum illegal but it also carries connotations of an ''independent Hongkong''. Using a public referendum to determine the important affairs of the territory would indicate to the world that Hongkong was an independent political body, an independent country or independent region. The political system of Hongkong to be decided today is the system which will be carried over into 1997. If the system has to be determined by public referendum, it would show Hongkong was independent of Britain and China. A PUBLIC referendum could even veto the Sino-British Joint Declaration; veto the Basic Law; or veto the agreement on Hongkong's political development made between two governments. One of the main points of a public referendum is that Hongkong citizens have the right to become involved in decisions on Hongkong affairs during the transitional period. This point is not completely accurate and should be clarified. The statement that ''Hongkong people have the right to . . .'' means the democratic rights of Hongkong people. In the past 150 years, the democratic rights of Hongkong people have been taken away by the British Government. Only after the negotiations on Hongkong affairs started in 1982 did Hongkong people begin to enjoy some democratic rights. After the British Government had been told the sovereignty of Hongkong must be returned to China, and that they must retreat from Hongkong on June 30, 1997, the then British foreign secretary announced the implementation of a representative system of government in Hongkong. Representative government has been the usual practice of the British Government when retreating from its colonies. This means setting-up different parties to fight one another. Pro-British parties then make use of this opportunity to gain the upper hand,allowing the privileges as well as benefits of the British Government to be extended and continued. In order to implement the principle of ''Hongkong people ruling Hongkong''; to maintain a ''high standard of self-autonomy'' and at the same time to execute a smooth transition by following the direction of ''one country, two systems'', the Chinese Government reached agreement with the British on the development of the political system in Hongkong as set out in the Basic Law. The setting up and approval of the Basic Law was aimed at protecting the democratic rights of Hongkong citizens. Those who take the agreement reached between the two governments, and the political structure set out in the Basic Law, as against the interests of the Hongkong people are misleading the public. Mr Lee has raised the question of a public referendum on the airport issue and other political problems. The UDHK tried to make use of the theme of democracy to advocate the thought of an independent Hongkong and to oppose the return of Hongkong to China. The intention, therefore, was not to introduce a wider measure of democracy into Hongkong's political system. The following are some good examples. Early in June 1989, Mr Lee announced in the Human Rights Committee meeting of the US House of Representatives that the British Government returning the 5.5 million Hongkong citizens to China was the same as the 5.5 million Jewish being turned back to Nazi Germany in World War II. IN DECEMBER 1990, the UDHK denounced the viewpoints on the construction of the new Hongkong airport expressed by the Hongkong and Macau Affairs Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and theNew China News Agency. The UDHK alleged ''the Chinese side could not represent the future Special Administrative Region to interfere in Hongkong's internal affairs'' and requested the Chinese side to ''immediately stop openly commenting on Hongkong affairs''. It said ''the only correct way is to allow, support and assist Hongkong citizens in establishing a democratic political system'' and ''allow Hongkong people to implement a high degree of self-autonomy''. When the Legislative Council debated political problems last year, Ms Christine Loh King-wai announced that ''convergence is the enemy of Hongkong citizens''. Mr Szeto Wah said the ''through train'' was a ''red train carrying pigs''. Inside the train were ''pigs'' moving to ''a world not for human beings'', he said. This clearly shows the UDHK's present call for a public referendum is another manifestation of their desire to bring about an independent Hongkong. This article originally appeared in Ta Kung Pao. Translation by Juliana Lor.