Last month, solicitors' body said no NPC ruling was needed The Law Society vice-president says the body has changed its position on the NPC Standing Committee's interpretation of the Basic Law on the chief executive's term, and now says it is needed to ensure the election proceeds smoothly. Lester Huang said the legal basis for the interpretation was contained within the Basic Law itself. He made the statement after a meeting in Beijing yesterday with Zhang Xiaoming , deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. The society previously maintained that the successor to a chief executive who vacates his seat prematurely should serve a full five-year term, and any interpretation of the relevant provisions in the mini-constitution would be unnecessary. But Mr Huang, who is leading a society delegation to Beijing, yesterday said there was an urgent need for an interpretation of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee, as the election for the next chief executive would be held on July 10. Asked whether the society would continue to oppose the interpretation by the Standing Committee, he said: 'Now that the interpretation of the Basic Law is proceeding, we will not oppose the interpretation in principle if it is conducted in accordance with the legal basis.' On March 18 the society said the provisions contained in Article 46 of the Basic Law were unambiguous. It would therefore be incorrect to apply any meaning to its provisions other than that which was readily apparent, it added. In a column in the April edition of the Law Society's publication The Hong Kong Lawyer, society president Michael Lintern-Smith wrote that Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie's assertion that the Basic Law should be interpreted according to Chinese law principles and not common law principles was disturbing. In a statement issued last night, the society maintained that the term of the new chief executive should be five years, but acknowledged that the debate was not in the city's interests. It said an interpretation was an 'alternative' way to resolve the uncertainty. The Standing Committee is scheduled to vote on the draft interpretation today when its four-day meeting ends. The draft states that a successor to a chief executive who leaves office prematurely would only serve the remainder of the preceding leader's term. Alan Leong Kah-kit, a legislator from the Article 45 Concern Group, said the Law Society had softened its stance on the interpretation by the Standing Committee. 'I have heard nothing new from Beijing this morning which made me change my position. I don't understand why the Law Society now agrees to the move because the interpretation is proceeding,' he said. Mr Zhang said some Hong Kong lawyers had complained that there were not sufficient exchanges with mainland officials during the seminar on the Basic Law interpretation held in Shenzhen two weeks ago.