By Joyce Lim
Hong Kong Correspondent
The Straits Times
Holding over 25% of the votes, they aim to stop Beijing’s preferred candidate Carrie Lam
By Ng Kang-chung and Emily Tsang
South China Sea
The trade-based functional constituencies are likely to survive the implementation of universal suffrage, according to a top adviser to a Beijing think tank on Hong Kong affairs.
Professor Lau Siu-kai said he believes Beijing would aim for a system that could combine elements of universal suffrage with the Legislative Council’s trade-based seats.
Speaking after a radio interview yesterday, Lau, vice-chairman of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said: “From the viewpoint of the central authorities, Hong Kong’s governance in the past few years could have become much more difficult if it had not been for the support of legislators from functional constituencies.
“Beijing’s view is that Hong Kong’s political development must serve the purpose of the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, which is … to protect investors’ interest and the capitalist system and avoid welfarism and populism.”
He believed Beijing would not allow the functional constituencies to be scrapped in the near future. “The most probable result is to find a way that can incorporate universal suffrage elements into functional constituency [elections],” he said.
Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee (left), Audrey Eu Yuet-mee (right) and other members of Civic Party protest to calling for the abolition of functional constituencies outside Legco in March, 2011. Photo: David Wong
The National People’s Congress Standing Committee has ruled that functional constituencies should make up half the seats in Legco, the chief executive can be elected by one man, one vote in 2017 and all lawmakers may also be subsequently also elected by universal suffrage.
Functional constituencies are mainly profession- or trade-based. Many have a narrow electoral base. In 2012, Steven Ho Chun-yin won the agriculture and fisheries seat with just 105 votes.
Emily Lau Wai-hing of the opposition Democratic Party insisted functional constituencies had to be abolished and ridiculed the suggestion the seats could be combined with elements of universal suffrage. She said: “Functional constituency elections with the characteristics of universal suffrage. Is it a joke?”
Meanwhile, a poll of over 1,200 medical students from Chinese University and the University of Hong Kong found 86 per cent said Legco should vote against the electoral reforms for the 2017 chief executive election if they were based on Beijing’s framework.
University of Hong Kong
Some 92 per cent said electing the chief executive according to Beijing’s wishes would not protect the rule of law and human rights in Hong Kong.
Former British PM told top city officials London would confront Beijing over any post-handover breaches of Joint Declaration, documents show
By Gary Cheung in London firstname.lastname@example.org
South China Morning Post
Margaret Thatcher assured Hong Kong’s political elite during her visit to the city in December 1984 that Britain would not hesitate to raise any breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration with Beijing after 1997.
The pledge was stated in the notes prepared by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for the then prime minister’s informal conversations with members of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council on December 20, 1984.
Britain’s assurance came to light in files recently declassified from the National Archives in London.
The closed-door meeting was held a day after the joint declaration was signed by her and then Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang in Beijing.
Thatcher was reminded in the “points to make” drafted by the FCO to tell Exco and Legco members that there was good reason for thinking Beijing would observe the agreement.
“Observance is in China’s interests for economic reasons and for cause of reunification,” the notes said.
“Britain has the right to raise any breaches with China after 1997. We would not hesitate to do so.”
According to a declassified record of a meeting between Zhao and Thatcher on December 19, 1984, Zhao said it was a tradition of the Chinese nation to act in good faith.
“Zhao said China always lived up to her international commitments. The agreement reached on Hong Kong was such a good agreement that no one wanted to alter or change it,” the record said.
The high degree of autonomy Beijing pledged in the pact has been a bone of contention in Hong Kong in the wake of the release of the State Council’s white paper in June, which stated that Beijing had “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong.
The “Iron Lady” was also advised to send a similar message at her press conference in Hong Kong on December 21, 1984.
In the briefing notes for the press conference, the FCO suggested the “line to take” on the hypothetical question: “What will Britain do if [the] Chinese do not implement [the] agreement?” Thatcher was advised to reply that a “breach of a legally binding international agreement would be a most serious matter, in our eyes and no doubt in those of [the] international community as a whole”.
“We would of course make the strongest possible representations to the Chinese government in order to seek a remedy.”
But Thatcher gave a milder answer at the press conference, saying: “If by any chance any question rose under the agreement, naturally a signatory to it would raise the matter with the Chinese government.”
Thatcher’s visit to China in 1982 launched the Sino-British negotiations on Hong Kong’s future. She died in April last year at the age of 87.
Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of mainland think tank the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said Beijing’s reputation was at stake if it failed to comply with the joint declaration. “Britain believes it has a moral duty to Hong Kong, but it doesn’t mean it has the oversight of the situation of Hong Kong after 1997,” Lau said.
Rifts between Britain and China over Hong Kong affairs emerged shortly after the signing of the joint declaration.
In July, British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming that Britain would “mobilise the international community and pursue every legal and other avenue available” if China breached the declaration.
On December 1, Prime Minister David Cameron stepped into a row over Beijing’s refusal to let a group of British lawmakers visit Hong Kong, saying that the decision was “counterproductive”.
The row centres on Beijing’s ban on a visit originally planned for this month by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the implementation of the joint declaration.
Hong Kong’s chief executive snubs UK committee probe into Joint Declaration (Includes links to articles on Hong Kong from 2 prior weeks)