Expansion of HK political bodies proposed

2021-03-16 12:08:32

A Hong Kong resident shows members of the Legislative Council on Sunday her approval for the National People's Congress' decision to improve the electoral system in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. ZHANG WEI/CHINA NEWS SERVICE Hong Kong's legislature and the committee that chooses the city's top leader need to be expanded to include more voices from different sectors so the bodies become more widely accepted, representatives of various sectors said at several high-level symposiums on Monday. The event was held by central government authorities to collect views on improving the special administrative region's electoral system. Starting on Monday, over 60 symposiums and meetings are to be held, with attendance forecast to exceed 1,000 people, to solicit opinions about a decision adopted by the National People's Congress on Thursday on improving Hong Kong's electoral system. At the opening of the symposium, Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said the discussion over ironing out the details of improvements to the electoral system should be based on the NPC's decision. Otherwise, Zhang said, it will be out of focus. One of the electoral amendments proposed by the NPC is increasing the number of Election Committee seats from 1,200 to 1,500. It also would grant the committee more powers, changing it from being mainly responsible for electing the chief executive to nominating and electing both the chief executive and some members of the city's Legislative Council. Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said having the Election Committee nominate candidates for the legislature will allow the city's overall interests to be better represented in its legislature. He expects the improvements would help reduce restrictions that cause the legislature to favor the interests of certain sectors, geographic constituencies or groups. It will also prevent the legislature from falling under the control of radical forces and separatists as well as strike a balance in maintaining Hong Kong's stable development and safeguarding the fundamental interests of Hong Kong and the country, Luo said. Zhang Yong, deputy head of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee, said the amendments will not aim to satisfy everyone's demands, but he hopes all people will accept and abide by the improved system. The symposiums are jointly being held by the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council and the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR. Better representation In the first day of the three-day consultation, three symposiums were held, with cross-sector representatives of Hong Kong society, including government officials, executive councilors, legislators and heads of major political groups and social groups. Speaking at a symposium, Stanley Ng Chau-pei, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, the biggest labor union in the city, proposed increasing seats for the labor sector, which has three seats in the city's legislature. Ng said the labor sector is underrepresented in the legislature and Election Committee, compared with the business sector, which has caused a scarcity of grassroots voices. He said he also thinks that the "five super seats" in the legislature which are elected from among district councilors, should be canceled because the district-level advisory body is not a key organ in Hong Kong's administrative structure. Senior Counsel Ronny Tong Ka-wah, who attended a seminar, told China Daily that he would suggest trimming down the seats for District Council from 170 to about 30 in the Election Committee because the council serves only as a "consultative body" for district work and services. Lawmaker and Executive Councilor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee proposed to expand the sectors of the legislature to make it more representative. She suggested including more representatives from the technology sector to boost its development. There is only one lawmaker representing information technology. Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said she suggested offering more training to future administrators to improve their ability to cope with complex social problems.