No obligation rests on the Government to establish fully elected Executive and Legislative councils under the international covenant on human rights, a top official said yesterday. Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie said the rights of Hong Kong people to elect half the legislature by universal suffrage in 2007 under the Basic Law was more than the SAR was required to meet under international norms. She said the human rights situation complied with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which China was a signatory. 'The electoral system laid down by the Basic Law agrees totally with the clauses applicable to Hong Kong in the covenant, so there does not exist a problem of primacy nor is there a need for change,' she said. The covenant states citizens should have freedom to elect representatives by 'universal and equal suffrage'. Ms Leung said although the Basic Law stated that the covenant should apply in the SAR, a reservation from the British administration in the 1970s exempted the Government from introducing full universal suffrage. Legislators joined forces to attack the Government for neglecting the progress of democracy. They said the present Legislative Council was not democratic as half the members came from functional constituencies. Unionist legislator Leung Yiu-chung said the vision of universal suffrage provided for in the Basic Law only had marginal significance. 'Do we really have universal and equal suffrage at present? If we do, then why did the Basic Law lay down a target of universal suffrage? It is only a decoration,' he said. According to the Basic Law, directly elected seats in the Legislative Council should increase in stages until 2007, when there should be equal numbers of members elected by universal suffrage and by functional constituencies. At present, 20 members are directly elected, 30 come from functional constituencies and 10 are elected by an Election Committee comprising 800 members. Emily Lau Wai-hing of The Frontier said it was not democratic for the Election Committee to elect the chief executive. 'How can a chief executive elected by 800 people be called a universal and equal election?' she said. Miss Leung said the election of the chief executive was also exempt from the covenant, so the Government had no responsibility to hold open elections.