Preserve One Country, Two Systems, enhance stability and prosperity
|Last week, I engaged with representatives of the business and professional sectors to explain the amendments on Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law to improve the electoral system of the HKSAR approved by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and listen to their views.
Last week, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) approved the amended Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law to improve the electoral system for the selection of the Chief Executive and the formation of the Legislative Council (LegCo) of the HKSAR. The amendments can plug the loopholes of the existing electoral system and facilitate the full implementation of the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong", establishing an electoral system that fits the actual situation and development needs of Hong Kong and allows wider participation.
There are a few key areas in the amendments. First, the amendments improve the composition of the Election Committee and entrust it with new functions. The Election Committee will be expanded with 1 500 Members and the number of sectors will be increased from four to five. The newly created sector is the “HKSAR deputies to the NPC, HKSAR members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and representatives of Hong Kong members of relevant national organisations”. Members from this sector can better attend to the overall interests of the Country and Hong Kong, while Members from other sectors tend to accord higher priority to the interests of specific groups or districts they represent. In addition, the number of subsectors will be increased from 38 to 40, with the composition of some subsectors enhanced and some other subsectors combined. The two new functions entrusted to the Election Committee are: (1) electing 40 legislators who will represent the Election Committee; and (2) nominating all the candidates standing in LegCo elections.
As for the LegCo, the number of seats will be increased to 90 according to the amendments. Currently, LegCo Members returned by functional constituencies mainly represent the interests of their respective trades or sectors, while those returned by geographical constituencies mainly stand for the interests of their districts. The newly added legislators to be returned by the Election Committee will represent the overall interests of the Hong Kong society. A larger portion of legislators returned by the Election Committee helps resolve the fragmented and partial representation of interests during the deliberation of the LegCo. Moreover, the same electorate will elect these legislators and the Chief Executive. This will help generate support for the Chief Executive in the LegCo, which is conducive to the communication between the executive authorities and the legislature and the implementation of the executive-led governance structure. The requirement for LegCo election candidates to obtain nominations from each of the sectors of the Election Committee aims to ensure their representativeness, so that they would go beyond the vested interests of specific sectors and represent the overall interest of Hong Kong.
Over the past few days, the political team of the HKSAR Government engaged representatives of different sectors to explain the amendments, listen to their views and enhance communication and exchanges. During my meetings with representatives of the business and professional sectors, attendees expressed some thoughts and expectations. Let me sum them up and share with you here.
First, the social incidents and violent acts in the latter half of 2019 endangered Hong Kong’s stability and law and order and dealt a serious blow to the business and investment environment. Many local and foreign enterprises at some point hesitated to make further investments in Hong Kong. Also, as many have noticed, the endless political disputes and the intensifying non-functioning of the LegCo over the past decade have seriously hindered the efficiency in governance and the social and economic development of Hong Kong. It is worrying that Hong Kong is facing worsening social and political instability and uncertain economic prospect given the rise of separatism in recent years, with some legislators and political figures pleading foreign countries for sanctions on Hong Kong and the Country in order to advance their political agenda. Therefore, following the enactment of the National Security Law in the HKSAR last year, there is the necessity and urgency to improve the electoral system now to restore political stability, public safety and law and order in Hong Kong.
Attendees generally expect that following the improvement of the electoral system, the executive-led governance structure could be strengthened and the Government’s governance capability could be enhanced. Various deep-seated problems, such as land and housing, could then be tackled more effectively in a timely manner. Long-term vision and early planning are also needed to enable Hong Kong to better integrate into the overall development of our Country and better develop our economy.
With the enactment of the National Security Law and the improvement of the electoral system, security and social stability can be restored and our political development can be put back on the right track. It is expected that extreme political disputes and attacks could be reduced, non-functioning situations in the LegCo could be avoided and attention could be focused on dealing with substantive matters and fostering development. With this new atmosphere, it is hoped that more capable people would be willing to take part in public services to help build a better Hong Kong.
The local community needs to understand more about the improvement of the electoral system, whereas in the international arena there are misunderstanding and even deliberate attacks. The HKSAR Government will not only take forward the legislative exercise to implement the new electoral system as soon as possible, but also ensure effective promotional work. Looking ahead, the political team of the HKSAR Government will continue to intensively engage different sectors. We fully support the NPC Standing Committee’s work to improve the electoral system of HKSAR to help restore stability, prosperity, pragmatism and efficiency in Hong Kong while allowing the sharing of the fruits of economic development in a more balanced and extensive manner.
April 4, 2021