BEIJING: The National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee decided on Sunday to grant universal suffrage in selection of Hong Kong’s chief executive on the basis of nomination by a “broadly representative” committee.
The decision on how the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) will be selected was passed unanimously at the bi-monthly session of the NPC Standing Committee. The document is entitled “Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Issues Relating to the Selection of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by Universal Suffrage and on the Method for Forming the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the Year 2016.”
The decision allows two or three candidates to run for the HKSAR’s top job after obtaining support from at least half of a nominating committee that “shall be made in accordance with the number of members, composition and formation method of the Election Committee for the Fourth Chief Executive.” Li Fei, vice secretary-general of the NPC Standing Committee, said during a press conference on Sunday afternoon that the size of the nominating committee was set at 1,200. All eligible electors of the region have the right to vote in the election of the chief executive and elect one of the candidates for the office, according to the decision.
The chief executive-elect, after being selected through universal suffrage, will have to be appointed by the central government, the decision ruled. The specific method of universal suffrage shall be prescribed in accordance with legal procedures through amending Annex I to the Hong Kong Basic Law. Such amendments must be endorsed by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Legislative Council and with the consent of the chief executive before being submitted to the NPC Standing Committee for approval, the NPC Standing Committee decided.
If the specific method of universal suffrage for selecting the chief executive is not adopted in accordance with legal procedures, the method used for selecting Hong Kong’s leader for the preceding term shall continue to apply, the decision said. The decision stressed that the chief executive has to be a person who “loves the country and loves Hong Kong.”
This is a basic requirement of the policy of “One Country, Two Systems.” The method for selecting the chief executive by universal suffrage must provide corresponding institutional safeguards for this purpose, according to the decision. It said that “implementing universal suffrage... represents a historic progress in Hong Kong’s democratic development and a significant change in the political structure of the HKSAR.
“Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner. “It must meet the interests of different sectors of society, achieve balanced participation, be conducive to the development of the capitalist economy, and make gradual and orderly progress in developing a democratic system that suits the actual situation in Hong Kong.”
The NPC Standing Committee also decided the existing formation method and voting procedures for the Legislative Council will not be amended. After the election of the chief executive by universal suffrage, the election of all the members of the Legislative Council of the HKSAR may be implemented by the same method, according to the decision.
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