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Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 12:08

SAR govt unveils electoral reform package

By Agencies

SAR govt unveils electoral reform package
Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam tables the electoral reform package at the Legislative Council on April 22, 201 5. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

HONG KONG - The Hong Kong government on Wednesday revealed a constitutional reform package designed for election of the Special Administrative Region (SAR)'s next top leader by universal suffrage in 2017.

Accompanied by all government principal officials, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam tabled the "one person, one vote" election package at the SAR's Legislative Council (LegCo).

The constitutional reform package for Hong Kong's election is "legal, feasible, rational and practical", China's State Council Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office said on Wednesday.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said earlier on Wednesday that "today is an important milestone for Hong Kong's democratic development".

Leung said that the package was in line with the Hong Kong Basic Law, the SAR's constitutional document and China's top legislature's decision on Aug 31 last year, and he hoped the Hong Kong society including LegCo members could support the package to realize universal suffrage.

While introducing the package, Lam said candidates for the next chief executive would be picked by a 1,200-member nominating committee which will be from four sectors consisting of 38 sub-sectors similar to the panel that had elected the current chief executive in 2012.

HOW UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE WORKS

In general, the nominating procedures prior to public voting should be divided into two stages, namely the stage of "members' recommendation" and the stage of "committee nomination".

To begin with, Lam said a candidate, to be in the reckoning, needed the endorsement of at least 120 members of the nomination committee. Since each committee member can only endorse one candidate and no candidate can be recommended by more than 240 members, the maximum number of candidates who can contest will be 10 and minimum 5.

Secondly, the nominating committee should finally select two to three candidates through a secret ballot. Each nominating committee member may vote for at least two persons seeking nomination. Two to three persons who garner the highest number of endorsements from more than half of all nominating committee members will become official candidates.

After that, all 5 million eligible Hong Kong voters choose the candidate of they think best through "one person, one vote" using a first-past-the-post system.

According to the five-step requirements of Hong Kong's constitutional reform, the proposed universal suffrage package must be endorsed by at least two-thirds of all LegCo members before Chief Executive Leung gives his consent and the top legislature puts the final stamp of approval on it.

"Today, the government sincerely puts forth specific proposals that have been formulated on the basis of public aspirations as well as the overall and long-term interests of the Hong Kong community," Lam said.

SAR govt unveils electoral reform package
Supporters wave the Chinese national flags and regional flags of Hong Kong outside the Legislative Council complex at Tamar, Admiralty ahead of the announcement of the electoral reform package by the government on April 22, 2015 to show their support of the proposal. (Edmond Tang / China Daily)

SOCIETY SHOWS SUPPORT

More than 1,000 Hong Kong residents gathered in front of the Legislative Council complex, holding banners and shouting slogans to voice their support.

"Of course (we) should support universal suffrage. With the right to vote, we can choose the chief executive we like," a 68-year-old retired civil servant surnamed Chan said.

Another Hong Kong citizen Fong, aged 58, was also among the demonstrators. He agreed that electing Hong Kong's top leader through "one person, one vote" is an important step for Hong Kong' s development of democracy.

Basic Law Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu believed that Hong Kong people would accept the package.

Cheung Chi-kong, executive director of the Hong Kong-based One Country Two Systems Research Institute, said Hong Hong would miss the train for universal suffrage if the reform package fails to be approved by the legislature.

Earlier in the day, Leung said it was the wish of both the Central and SAR governments and the people of Hong Kong to implement "one person, one vote" in 2017.

Lam said, the SAR government had collected more than 130,000 written submissions from the public during the two-month public consultation that ended in March.

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