A state leader accused pan-democrats yesterday of showing disrespect for the Basic Law and the decision on a date for universal suffrage made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Li Jianguo, vice-chairman of the committee, was quoted as making the remarks in a closed-door meeting in Zhuhai with Hong Kong and Macau members of the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. His comments came four days after the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said the resignation by lawmakers to fight by-elections in the quest for universal suffrage would be a 'blatant challenge' to the Basic Law and the central government's authority. Pan-democrats see the by-elections - one in each of the five geographical constituencies - as a referendum on government plans for democratisation. Kennedy Wong Ying-ho, a local delegate to the CPPCC, said: 'The vice-chairman expressed concern over the 'de facto referendum'. Do the Basic Law and the NPCSC's decision have to be complied with? He raised this question and said it was the biggest problem lying between the opposition camp and the central government.' The committee has ruled out universal suffrage by 2012 but will allow it in the 2017 and 2020 elections. Another CPPCC delegate, Professor Lau Siu-kai, head of the Central Policy Unit, said Li urged members to support the Hong Kong government in promoting constitutional reform and other matters. 'He criticised the opposition camp for not acting in accordance with the law, and not respecting the Basic Law and the Standing Committee's decision on the 2012 electoral methods,' Lau said. Li also said the 'five musts' President Hu Jintao mentioned in Macau last month could serve as a reference for Hong Kong. On his trip to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Macau's handover, Hu said Macau must unite patriotic forces, strictly comply with the Basic Law, push forward economic development, maintain social harmony, and enhance talent training. On the economy, the NPC leader suggested the city should sharpen its edge. 'He said Hong Kong should neither be too optimistic and rely on the central government too much, nor be too pessimistic to think it will be marginalised as the mainland economy grows,' Lau said. Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said Li's comments reinforced Beijing's message that Hongkongers should do what they are told. Former Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming was concerned that the pressure might lead government allies in Hong Kong to boycott the by-elections. Basic Law Committee member Lau Nai-keung said: 'The government-friendly camp should not legitimise the pan-democrats' plan to launch a de facto referendum by contesting the by-elections.' He urged Legco president Tsang Yok-sing not to accept the resignations by the five lawmakers. Lau said the government should not hold any by-elections to fill the vacancies. 'The Legco president shall declare those lawmakers are no longer qualified for office if they are absent from meetings for three consecutive months without valid reasons.'