CHINA HK leaders vow electoral change cooperation

CHINA

HK leaders vow electoral change cooperation

By GANG WEN in Hong Kong | CHINA DAILY

08:37, March 17, 2021

Photo: Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor signs her name to a petition in Hong Kong on Monday in support of the National People's Congress' decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR. /CHINA DAILY

Leaders of the Hong Kong government and the special administrative region's Legislative Council said on Tuesday that they will join forces to fully cooperate with the implementation of an improved electoral system in the SAR.

Their remarks came as the three-day public consultation in the city held by high-level departments of the central authorities entered its second day. Various seminars were held to collect views from representatives including heads of government bureaus, business leaders and educators.

Meeting the media before an Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said that after the National People's Congress Standing Committee revises Annex I and Annex II of the Basic Law, the Hong Kong government will put forward the amendments of local laws to the legislature and cooperate with it to speed up the process.

To improve efficiency, the government will propose the changes, involving over 20 local laws, in a comprehensive bill, Lam said. She added that the government has already arranged designated officials to take charge of the work to draft the bill. Regarding any possible questions raised by lawmakers, officials are required to reply in one or two days, she said.

But Lam also conceded that the schedule is quite tight for the central authorities and the Hong Kong government to complete the amendments, arrange voter registration and conduct elections. As a result, it would be "quite difficult" to hold this year's legislative election on Sept 5 as scheduled, she said.

Meanwhile, the chief executive expressed gratitude to the central authorities for sending a group of high-level officials to Hong Kong and conducting large-scale consultations to solicit opinions.

After attending one of the consultation meetings, Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen told reporters that when the government submits the bill to amend local legislation, he would be happy to hold additional meetings of the Legislative Council to accelerate the process.

Prominent officials from the central authorities are holding 66 seminars and meetings and consulting with over 1,000 representatives of a wide cross-section of Hong Kong society over a three-day period ending on Wednesday.

During a seminar on Tuesday, Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, said the events were in fact "pre-legislative consultation", a widely adopted process before legislation.

Education sector representative Lawrence Tang Fei, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, said after a seminar that the election should not aim to protect the vested interests of certain sectors.

He said that a key issue for the education sector in determining the effectiveness of the election would be whether suitable persons capable of improving Hong Kong's overall education quality and global competency can be elected.

Hong Kong lawmaker Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, representing the business sector, suggested including more representatives of young people, women's organizations and mainland-funded institutions in the legislature.

He also advised the authorities to look at whether candidates holding foreign passports should be banned from standing for election, a practice that has been adopted by some overseas regions.

Chen Shuman contributed to this story.

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