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The Commissioner's Office Holds a Press Briefing on Constitutional Reform

  On 16 June, Deputy Commissioner Song Ru’an held a briefing on constitutional reform for the foreign press in Hong Kong and addressed questions from the press. Fifteen journalists from media organizations in United States, United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Japan and Singapore attended the briefing.


  Deputy Commissioner Song said at the beginning that the Hong Kong SAR Government will submit the universal suffrage proposal to the LegCo for a vote tomorrow. The democratic development in Hong Kong has entered the final sprinting phase. The SAR Government’s proposal is democratic, open, fair and just. It fully conforms to the Basic Law and the NPC Standing Committee Decisions and reflects the principle of “one country, two systems”. It offers not only the most democratic system ever in Hong Kong, but also the universal suffrage system that best suits the current conditions in Hong Kong. It has received the support from the majority of the people. The Central Government bears in mind the fundamental and long-term interests of Hong Kong and follows the will of the majority of the people in the city. The Central Government honors its commitments and will make the utmost efforts for the passage of the proposal till the last moment.

  You might have read the interview given by Director Wang Guangya of the State Council Office of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs to Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po yesterday on constitutional reform, in which he made clarifications on issues related to the proposal, including whether “pocket it first” means “pocket it forever”. According to Director Wang, the allegation that “pocket it first” means “forever” is a sort of distortion and is very misleading. No official from the Central Government Departments has ever said so. He reaffirmed that the August 31 Decision is an institutional arrangement that concerns the political system in Hong Kong. Therefore its stability should be maintained. It shall be applicable not only to the Chief Executive election in 2017, and shall remain applicable in the long run until being amended in accordance with legal procedures. At the same time, legally speaking there is no legal system that shall remain unchanged forever. Any legal system will develop in accordance with the social development. Regarding whether any amendment should be made to Hong Kong’s universal suffrage system for the Chief Executive in the future, and when and how such amendment should be made, we need to look at how the society in Hong Kong develops, how the social consensus is being built up and how the existing system withstand the test of reality. If an amendment is to be made in the future, it should follow the “five –step” process. The pressing task now is to make the first step and pass the proposal so as to turn universal suffrage into a reality.

  Deputy Commissioner Song further noted that if the LegCo passes the proposal, the universal suffrage will be implemented in 2017. It would meet the aspiration of the Hong Kong people for selecting the Chief Executive through “one person, one vote”. It would serve the overall interest of Hong Kong society and its long-term development needs. The adoption of the proposal means a major step forward in Hong Kong’s democracy and social progress. The legitimacy of the Chief Executive will be greatly enhanced under universal suffrage, which will help the SAR government to concentrate its energy on administration, develop economy, improve people’s livelihood and make more vigorous efforts to address practical issues related to people’s welfare. According to the August 31 Decision, the election of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage will create necessary conditions for the implementation of universal suffrage for the election of all members of the LegCo in 2020.

  If the pan-democrats stubbornly insist on vetoing the proposal, the democracy in Hong Kong will come to a standstill. The five million eligible voters in Hong Kong will unable to exercise their right to select the Chief Executive through “one person, one vote”. No one will know when the constitutional reform process will be relaunched. The political wrangling in Hong Kong will continue and internal strife will persist. The society will be even more polarized. The prospects of Hong Kong will be worrying.

  Over the past few days, the radical pan-democrats resorted to even despicable means to blackmail the moderates into sticking to a veto. They fabricated stories that the Central Government uses a great fortune to buy their support. They even threaten to besiege the LegCo building and carry out extreme and violent activities. It can be expected that if the proposal is vetoed, they will shift the blame to the SAR Government or even the Central Government. We hope the moderate pan-democrats will see through the true nature of radical forces, show political courage and follow the will of the people. We hope they will bear in mind the fundamental and long-term interests of Hong Kong and the overall interests of the country and cast a responsible vote in LegCo. We hope that they will give the proposal a chance and the Hong Kong voters a chance.

  Deputy Commissioner Song stressed that whether the proposal will be passed or not, the Central Government will continue to implement the “one country, two systems ” policy and the Basic Law, continue to support the Chief Executive and the SAR Government in law-based administration and support the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

  The long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong serves the interests of the Hong Kong people and the interests of foreign nationals in Hong Kong. You have lived and worked in the city for years. I hope you will make fair, objective and responsible coverage over the constitutional reform in Hong Kong. I hope you will not be misled by the radical forces and will not champion their views.

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