The Chinese Legislative Council, LegCo, harmoniously voted and adopted the amended annexes I and II of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, HKSAR, elementary law geared towards selecting its Chief Executive and establishing the method of formation of the region’s legislative Council as well as its voting procedures.
The upgraded law was adopted Tuesday March 30, during the mothball the 27th session Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress, NPC, comprised of 167 members. Thus, a Presidential order signed Wednesday March 31, by President Xi Jinping announced the effectiveness of the meliorated law.
The rectified annexes that were unswervingly supported by the people of Hong Kong is basically centred around restructuring and empowering the region’s Electoral Committee. Thus, a means to smoothen the democracy of the country as highlighted by a top legislator. “A democratic electoral system suiting Hong Kong’s legal status and reality has taken shape as a result of the amendments.”
Speaking at the session’s closing meeting, Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee said it has do with “a democratic electoral system suiting Hong Kong’s legal status and reality has taken shape as a result of the amendments.” To him, the two amended annexes fully demonstrate the resolution and common will of the Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots, in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests as well as the constitutional order of the HKSAR.
According to HKSAR Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, improving the electoral system and implementing “patriots administering Hong Kong,” the excessive politicization in society and the internal rift that has torn Hong Kong apart can be effectively mitigated, thereby enhancing the governance capability of the HKSAR. He therefore furthered by Reiterating his support effective implementation of the newly adopted law. “I and the HKSAR Government will spare no effort in taking forward the necessary amendments to the local electoral legislation in accordance with the amended Annex I and Annex II.”
In a bid to strengthen the Hong Kong’s election committee, Committee membership has been increased from 1,200 to 1,500. Likewise, the number of sectors has been augmented from four to five. The number of subsectors has also been increased from 38 to 40 and some subsectors have been adjusted and improved based on the actual situation. Also, it expand LegCo membership from 70 to 90, of which, 40 shall be returned by the Election Committee, 30 by functional constituencies and 20 by geographical constituencies through direct elections, thereby ensuring a broader representation.
“The consideration behind this institutional design is that LegCo members returned by the Election Committee would represent the overall interests of Hong Kong society, those returned by functional constituencies would represent the interests of various sectors, and those returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections would represent the interests of their constituencies,” stated Deng Zhonghua, Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.
Aside from its main function of nominating and electing the chief executive, the committee is henceforth expected to elect a relatively large proportion of LegCo members as well as participate in the nominations of all LegCo candidates.
In this wise, Zhang Yong, Deputy Head of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee said, “with the enlargement, increased number of sectors, adjusted subsectors and renewed functions, the Election Committee will have a broader base and be more representative of society, leading to more balanced participation from people from all walks of life.”
Going by the amendments, the seats of District Council members are canceled in both the Election Committee and the LegCo. In recent years, District Councils have seriously deviated from their functions and nature prescribed by the Basic Law, which stipulates that District Councils are “district organizations which are not organs of political power” and may “be consulted by the government of the Region on district administration and other affairs,” explained Deng.
He called on District Councils should concentrate on promoting the well-being of grassroots communities, provide valuable and constructive suggestions to the HKSAR government, and work as a bridge connecting the government with ordinary people, given the fact that it is finances by the government.
The amendments however come in time to Remediate the plugging loopholes and defects in the HKSAR’s previous electoral systems and its selection methods. It will also go a long way to rendering the committee more critical and careful.
Hong Kong Election Reforms To Toughen Democracy
Amidst highly criticised by some Western Powers, notably, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Australia, the recent draft decision of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is aimed at strengthening governance in the Special Administrative Region, SAR, in accordance with the law.
This move however comes almost a year after the Central authorities decided to introduce the subsequent to months of riots by radicals, had finally brought life in the SAR to a standstill.
First, the political turmoil in Hong Kong, such as the violent protests in 2019 and election of anti-China members to local District Councils through dubious means, exposed multiple loopholes in the SAR’s electoral system which foreign elements, in cahoots with local radicals, exploited in an attempt to trigger a “color revolution” and grab power in the SAR.
Second, the SAR’s election rules are first and foremost subject to the central authorities’ jurisdiction, and then to Hong Kong’s right to autonomy. This means the central authorities’ move is legitimate and justifiable.
Third, with its return to the motherland, Hong Kong came under the overall governance system of the People’s Republic of China. As such, the central authorities have the authority to draft and amend the election rules according to the nation’s Constitution and the SAR’s Basic Law.
Fourth, it’s Annex I and Annex II rather than the main body of the Basic Law that will be revised as part of the electoral system reform, and the authorization of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress makes the revision binding on Hong Kong.
Fifth, the reform, which ensures patriots administer Hong Kong, is in line with the spirit of “one country, two systems”.
The central authorities have also followed the principle of consultative democracy by soliciting the views of people from all walks of life in Hong Kong, consulting top legal experts and conducting in-depth studies before revising the law, so as to ensure the reform is scientific and progressive.