Post-1997 hope for district boards

MUNICIPAL council and district board members might be allowed to serve beyond 1997, a senior Chinese official was yesterday quoted as saying.

The comment came in a meeting between the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) and mainland members of the Preliminary Working Committee's (PWC) political sub-group.

The DAB said the councils and boards were not organs of political power and should be treated differently from the legislature, which China has said must be disbanded in 1997.

Members should only have to go through a simple procedure to retain their seats, DAB Secretary Cheng Kai-nam said.

Deputy Director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Wang Fengchao, did not rule out the possibility that council and board members could serve beyond 1997.

However, he said that would be possible only after solving a host of legal problems.

''These include the spelling out of the confirmation procedures, criteria [for riding the through-train], and who is empowered to confirm them,'' Mr Cheng quoted Mr Wang as saying.

The mainland co-convenor of the sub-group, Professor Xiao Weiyun, said the entire three-tier structure should be re-established in 1997.

''There is no such thing as one tier being re-established while the other two tiers need not be,'' he said. However, Professor Xiao declined to say whether re-establishment meant re-election.

Also yesterday, the PWC economic sub-group suggested a high-powered body be formed, made up of senior Hong Kong and Chinese officials, to co-ordinate infrastructural developments.

Hong Kong co-convenor, Nellie Fong Wong Kut-man, said both Hong Kong and the Guangdong provincial governments were planning infrastructural developments without co-ordination.