Signatories support Hong Kong election changes

2021-03-22 12:02:59

Alfred Sit Wing-hang, secretary for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's Innovation and Technology Bureau, gives a thumbs-up to a resident who signed in support of the National People's Congress decision on improving the HKSAR's electoral system on Saturday in the city's Sha Tin district. [Photo by Li Zhihua/China News Service] Over 2.38 million Hong Kong residents have signed an online and offline petition supporting the improvement of the city's electoral system. Many who signed the petition said the groundswell of support showed that it is the mainstream public view that the special administrative region's electoral system needs to be improved to get the city back on track. Tam Yiu-chung, one of the organizers of the activity and a Hong Kong deputy to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said the 11-day activity, which ended on Sunday, involved the concerted efforts of 5,300 volunteers from more than 1,320 associations. Tam said the public's positive response demonstrates residents' collective wish for a more stable and prosperous city with a better electoral system. A woman surnamed Chan who signed the petition at one of the booths established across 18 districts in Hong Kong expressed her high hopes for the move by the nation's top legislature, saying it will end the long-standing internal strife in the city and stabilize the city's political situation. In that way, Hong Kong can better concentrate on the economy and improve people's livelihoods, she said. Over the weekend, leaders across various sectors of society in Hong Kong continued to express their support for electoral improvements. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in a video speech at a seminar on Saturday that she has every confidence in Hong Kong's future in the wake of the two major decisions made by the nation's top legislature. One was the National Security Law for Hong Kong, passed and enacted in June, and the other was the decision to improve Hong Kong's electoral system to ensure "patriots administering Hong Kong", she said. In a Sunday blog post, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said that the decision made by the National People's Congress aims to tackle concrete problems in the election process and did not mean to completely overhaul the system. This definitely will not cause a regression in Hong Kong's democracy, he added. He elaborated that the decision only proposed to amend the specific election methods for the chief executive and lawmakers, which are stipulated in Annex I and Annex II of the Basic Law. It keeps intact articles 45 and 68 of the law, which specify the ultimate goal of electing the chief executive and lawmakers by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee. Earlier on Saturday, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said that the National Security Law, enacted to improve Hong Kong's electoral system, and the upcoming local legislative amendments all provide institutional safeguards to the implementation of "patriots administering Hong Kong". These guarantees will offer an ideal environment and foundation for Hong Kong to better implement "one country, two systems" and exert the advantages of the practice, he continued. Nip stressed that as the backbone of the HKSAR's administration structure, civil servants should fully understand the SAR's constitutional order established under "one country, two systems" and shoulder the vital responsibility of the principle's implementation. Mass participation Lawmaker Leung Che-cheung, who is also president of the New Territories Association of Societies, told reporters on Sunday that the scale of participation in the petition showed that the National People's Congress decision has been well received by local residents. Leung and his colleagues recently held petition-signing campaigns at several street stands in the New Territories. He said many residents expressed support for the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong", a major goal of the electoral improvements. Leung said the petition has strengthened the public's understanding of the electoral improvements and also given rise to public discussion on standards for patriots.