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Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 08:20

HK people awaiting landmark decision

By Joseph Li in Hong Kong
HK people awaiting landmark decision

China's Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Wu Bangguo (C) delivers a speech during the plenary session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 10, 2011. (Photo / AFP)

Hong Kong people are looking forward to the country’s top legislature, which opened a session on Monday, making a clear-cut decision on the SAR’s electoral reform.

This will provide a sense of direction for the reform process to move forward.

The 10th session of the 12th National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) began in Beijing on Monday. The meetings will last for seven days. The question of Hong Kong constitutional development is at the top of the agenda — particularly the question of whether electoral methods for forming the Legislative Council in 2016 and selecting the Chief Executive (CE) in 2017 should be amended.

A total of 12 deputies to the NPC from Hong Kong will attend the NPCSC meeting this time and give their views on constitutional development during group discussions.

According to Maria Tam Wai-chu, head of the Hong Kong delegation and member of the HKSAR Basic Law Committee, discussions on Hong Kong constitutional development may start today (Tuesday). Voting on the resolution will take place on the final day of the session. A press conference will be held to announce the decision.

On Sept 1, Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the NPCSC and chairman of the HKSAR Basic Law Committee; Zhang Rongshun, deputy chairman of NPCSC’s Commission of Legislative Affairs; and Feng Wei, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, will come to Hong Kong to hold a briefing session on constitutional development and elaborate on the NPCSC decision.

The NPCSC held a preparatory meeting on Monday afternoon. After the meeting, NPCSC member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai told reporters that discussions on Hong Kong constitutional development will begin in six groups. With the consent of all six groups, a resolution will be drafted for further discussion on Thursday.

Maria Tam hopes the NPCSC will clearly spell out a constitutional framework for the 2016 and 2017 electoral mechanism. This will end disputes on political reform in Hong Kong.

Instead of expecting the NPCSC decision “to lower the gate” as some suggest, she said the decision will in fact bring the “filibustering” on political development in Hong Kong to an end.

Fellow NPC Deputy Cheng Yiu-tong, who will attend the NPCSC meeting, believed the top legislature would not give an inch as far as important principles are concerned.

In his view, the NPCSC will most likely stipulate an individual must obtain the backing of at least 50 percent of Nominating Committee members to qualify as a candidate for the CE election.

NPC Deputy Ma Fung-kwok said the easiest way to understand democratic procedure is to use “50 percent” as the nomination threshold for CE election candidates.
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