The Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021 was passed in the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Thursday. The amendment to the ordinance was made in accordance with the Decision of the National People's Congress (NPC) on Improving the Electoral System of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the amended Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law with a view to fully implementing “patriots administering Hong Kong” and safeguarding the overall interests of society and the constitutional order as set out in the Constitution and the Basic Law. This would synthesise a new democratic electoral system suited to Hong Kong’s actual situation and with Hong Kong characteristics.
When improving the electoral system of a place, one would take into account the historical background, cultural diversity, political thoughts, and inevitably the historical and current state of political development and the actual circumstances there. The Standing Committee (SC) of the NPC, in deliberating the amendments to Annexes I and II to the Basic Law, has already taken into consideration the actual situation in Hong Kong. Certain overseas politicians alleged again that the legislation “defies” the objective of universal suffrage as set out in the Basic Law. However, it should be pointed out that the ultimate aim of universal suffrage, to be achieved in light of the actual situation in Hong Kong and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly process, as specified in Articles 45 and 68 of the Basic Law, remains unchanged.
The NPCSC adopted the amended Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law on March 30. Since then, my colleagues and I have met with various organisations and individuals from the legal and dispute resolution sector to explain to them the improvements to the electoral system. At the Bills Committee meetings, the Government categorised the policy with the related main ordinance and subsidiary legislations, which offered LegCo members a good grasp of the content and its implementation in the course of scrutiny.
The Election Committee is now entrusted with two new functions: (1) electing 40 legislators, and (2) nominating candidates for the LegCo election. These are two important aspects of the electoral system. Through the reconstituted Election Committee, the balanced and orderly political participation of the Hong Kong community is enhanced and broader representation is ensured. As such, the Election Committee is like the ballast of the new democratic electoral system, ensuring the overall interests of society, so as to fully and faithfully implement the policy of “one country, two systems”.
The newly established Candidate Eligibility Review Committee will be responsible for assessing and validating the eligibility of candidates for the Election Committee members, the Chief Executive and the LegCo members, ensuring their qualifications are in conformity with the Basic Law, the Hong Kong National Security Law, NPCSC’s interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law, the Decision by the NPCSC on the qualification of the HKSAR LegCo members, and provisions of relevant local laws, which fully reflect the implementation of “patriots administering Hong Kong”.
The improvements to the electoral system should bring an end to the chaotic scenes at the LegCo. Radicals with anti-Chinese sentiment and those who attempted to collude with external forces to meddle in Hong Kong’s affairs are less likely to enter the political structure through elections. The operation of the LegCo will resume normality. People who are devoted to serving the community will be able to participate in policy discussions in a rational and objective manner and offer constructive suggestions to the Government.
Last but not least, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to colleagues who participated in the local legislation for their full support to the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau. To ensure that the three coming elections can be held as scheduled, the DoJ will continue to work closely with other government departments for the preparatory work.
May 30, 2021