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NPCSC decision stays effective beyond 2017: Li Fei
2015/06/01

By Shadow Li in Shenzhen and Kahon Chan in Hong Kong (China Daily)

The electoral reform framework set out by the country's top legislature on Aug 31, 2014 will remain in effect beyond 2017, a senior Beijing official told Hong Kong lawmakers on Sunday.

Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) and chairman of the HKSAR Basic Law Committee, set the record straight on the top legislature's power when he talked to Legislative Council members at a meeting in Shenzhen.

Opposition members in LegCo have demanded the revision of the NPCSC's Aug 31 decision, or they would veto the government's reform blueprint when it is tabled at the chamber in about two weeks' time. The package requires two-thirds majority to pass into law.

Li reminded the Hong Kong lawmakers that the resolution adopted last August does not specify an expiry date and it will remain in effect for Chief Executive elections after 2017. There is no possibility for the top legislature to revise the decision without even putting it into practice, he said.

Li noted that a number of parameters provided in the NPCSC decision were derived from the Basic Law itself.

Firstly, the power to nominate CE candidates in a universal suffrage election is exclusive to the Nominating Committee.

Secondly, this "broadly representative" committee would resemble the current Election Committee that elected the incumbent city chief.

Lastly, the Nominating Committee is an institution. Li explained it would be "in accordance with democratic procedures" to require each candidate to win approval from the majority of its members.

These three aspects are a pivotal part of the Basic Law's requirement on the nomination process.

The NPCSC holds the power not only to set the framework of the election, but also to interpret the Basic Law. Though the Aug 31 decision was not an interpretation, Li said that the legal authority of its comprehension of the Basic Law is unchallengeable.

Li lauded the SAR government's reform package for being democratic, open, fair and just. It is the best universal suffrage system for Hong Kong, he said, adding that some reform proposals were dropped because they contradicted the constitutional framework.

Those who "vigorously" reject the NPCSC's Aug 31 decision, Li noted, have neglected the power of the country's top legislature. He said it is clear that these people are not putting the "one country" at the top of their priority.

Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, added that an impasse in the electoral reform could hamper the city's efforts to catch up with its competitors in the next five to 10 years.

Zhang said that now is the "testing moment" for the opposition lawmakers. Those who genuinely hope to build mutual trust with the central government and to do something good for the nation should make this leap although it is not an easy one, he said.

The opposition camp stated after the meeting that they would veto the reform, while some individual lawmakers said suggested a delay in putting the proposal to a vote to buy extra time with the hope of reaching a consensus.

CE Leung Chun-ying ruled out that possibility at the press briefing, assuring that the local officials will continue to explain the rationale behind the reform plan in the next two to three weeks. LegCo is expected to vote on the blueprint in mid June.

Chairwoman of the New People's Party and Executive Councilor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said outside the meeting venue that the opposition lawmakers should not have the delusion that the central government will make any last-minute compromise.

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