Dr. Charles Yeung 【President】
Silver Bauhinia Star, JP
The HKSAR Government completed the first round of consultation on the Methods on Selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 and for Forming the Legislative Council in 2016 earlier this month, in which various sectors of society eagerly presented their proposals and demands. In the past few months, CGCC has held seminars, forums and other activities to encourage our members and the business community to express their views. Besides, we have formed a task force to discuss the topic of constitutional development in depth. Earlier on, moreover, we submitted to the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau a position paper together with over 4,000 letters of opinions we collected from our members and friends from different communities. CGCC’s views on Hong Kong’s constitutional development are mainly focused on several aspects:
Electing CE by Universal Suffrage on Legal Basis
CGCC believes the election of Chief Executive (CE) by universal suffrage must comply with the Basic Law and the interpretations and decisions of the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC). This is a requirement under the constitutional framework and the most fundamental legal basis for promoting the CE election by universal suffrage. Making proposals not complying with the Basic Law means nothing but deviation from the goal of universal suffrage and violation of the rule of law and core values that the Hong Kong society treasures.
We very much agree that CE must be a person who “loves the nation and Hong Kong” and “is not against the Central Government” in order to effectively meet the relevant requirements and constitutional responsibilities under the Basic Law for CE. The Central Government has substantive power to appoint CE, which means the final decision to appoint, or not appoint, CE is made by the Central Government. This is not only a necessary procedure under the law but also a broad consensus in society.
Fulfilling “Broad Representation” and “Balanced Participation” Principles
On the formation of the Nominating Committee (NC), CGCC recommends that reference be drawn from the composition, membership proportion and sector split of the existing Election Committee, which already covers all strata, professions and trades in Hong Kong in a balanced manner. An NC with its composition following that of the Election Committee will best meet the requirement of “broad representation”.
There are divergent views on whether the membership and sector split of NC should be changed. CGCC opines that various sectors may have further discussion on this issue, provided that the same proportion of members from each sector is maintained to ensure “balanced participation”. Nevertheless, an NC with too many members will make it less practicable, and the 2017 election will be the first time Hong Kong elects CE by universal suffrage. Taking these into account, we prefer minimal changes in the relevant systems.
On nomination procedures, CGCC agrees that NC should nominate CE candidates through “organizational nomination” to reflect its collective will. We also agree that NC’s power of nomination is substantive and any proposal bypassing or undermining its nomination power is inconsistent with the Basic Law. Furthermore, we recommend that eligible persons who are interested to run for the office of CE are required to obtain the recommendations of one-eighth of the NC members before he can become a CE candidate. After the list of potential candidates is finalized, NC should nominate CE candidates based on the principle of majority rule, under which a person can become a CE candidate only after receiving the votes of more than half of the NC members.
Avoiding Too Complicated Voting Arrangement
In our view, the suitable number of CE candidates should be two to three so as to ensure competition while avoiding too complicated, social resources-consuming election processes. This arrangement can also well take care of the legitimacy, fairness and competitiveness of the election. As for the voting method, we recommend a relative majority system. That means only one round of voting should be held and the candidate who receives the highest number of votes should win the election without having to obtain a majority of the votes.
Leaving LegCo Seats Number and Composition Unchanged
CGCC also expressed views on the method for forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2016. The LegCo election system is more complex, involving a wider spectrum of issues and more controversy. Therefore, we suggest leaving the existing LegCo seats number and composition unchanged so that our society can concentrate on discussing the CE election by universal suffrage. Yet, we stress that as a well-functioning part of Hong Kong’s political system, the functional constituencies of LegCo are broadly representative and enable better balance the overall interests of all social sectors. As such, they should be retained.
We firmly believe that the vast majority of Hong Kong people are eager to see an election of CE by universal suffrage on a one-person-one-vote basis. The Central Government has been showing its determination and sincerity to promote democratic development in Hong Kong, while the HKSAR Government is making tireless and pragmatic efforts to achieve the goal of universal suffrage. I look forward to all sectors in society putting Hong Kong’s overall interests first and seeking common ground. And I hope that our society can discuss constitutional development on the basis of the Basic Law and the NPCSC interpretations and decisions, striving for a proposal acceptable to the Central Government and most Hong Kong people and avoiding constitutional stalemate.