Chow Pak-chin ex­plains why a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the con­sti­tu­tional doc­u­ment is needed to en­sure HK’s fu­ture sta­bil­ity

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

Any­one who has been read­ing the lo­cal news lately would have heard the city’s new Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor re­peat­edly enun­ci­at­ing that there is“no fu­ture and no room” for Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence, a state­ment in line with the one by Premier Li Ke­qiang. On a sep­a­rate oc­ca­sion, Zhang De­jiang, chair­man of the Standing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress, stressed that some ba­sic prin­ci­ples of “one coun­try, two sys­tems” — from main­tain­ing Hong Kong’s so­cial and eco­nomic sys­tems and way of life to Hong Kong peo­ple rul­ing Hong Kong with a high de­gree of au­ton­omy — are the best ways to deal with the ac­tual cir­cum­stances of Hong Kong, while un­der­lin­ing the dan­ger of mis­in­ter­pret­ing lo­cal­ism as love for one’s home­town. In the run-up to the 20th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion, top of­fi­cials in the cen­tral gov­ern­ment and the SAR gov­ern­ment alike seemed espe­cially out­spo­ken about the orig­i­nal in­tent of the Ba­sic Law, which was adopted by the Sev­enth Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress on April 4, 1990, and signed by then­pres­i­dent Yang Shangkun. The rea­son for their tire­less re­it­er­a­tion is sim­ple: There re­main a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als who ei­ther have mis­un­der­stood the essence of Ba­sic Law, or are in­ten­tion­ally mis­in­ter­pret­ing the Ba­sic Law.

Five days be­fore the 20th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of the HKSAR, Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Tam Takchi, among mem­bers of three rad­i­cal groups, car­ried out a friv­o­lous stunt. They cov­ered the Golden Bauhinia — a gift from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment to com­mem­o­rate the re­turn of Hong Kong from Bri­tain to China in 1997 — with black fab­ric. This was re­moved al­most as soon as it was put up. By The au­thor is pres­i­dent of Wis­dom Hong Kong, a lo­cal think tank. the time po­lice of­fi­cers ar­rived on the scene, clas­si­fy­ing the act as a “nui­sance com­plaint”, the so-called “ac­tivists” were nowhere to be seen. The pet­ti­ness of this child­ish act aside, in­ci­dences like this show just how de­ter­mined cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als in Hong Kong are to prop­a­gate, or even to per­pet­u­ate, mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the Ba­sic Law.

Since the re­turn of Hong Kong to China, there should have been lit­tle doubt re­gard­ing the role and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in en­sur­ing the con­tin­u­ous pros­per­ity and de­vel­op­ment of Hong Kong. Equally there should have been lit­tle doubt about the mean­ing of HKSAR — that ab­so­lute au­ton­omy was never en­sured by the city’s sta­tus as a “spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion”, that a high level of au­ton­omy should not be con­fused with ab­so­lute au­ton­omy. For all their ac­cu­sa­tions and their vil­i­fi­ca­tion of for- mer chief ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun-ying as an un­demo­crat­i­cally elected leader kow­tow­ing to the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, peo­ple seem to have for­got­ten that “The Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion shall be se­lected by elec­tion or through con­sul­ta­tions held lo­cally and be ap­pointed by the Cen­tral Peo­ple’s Gov­ern­ment,” ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle 45 of the Ba­sic Law, and “The method for se­lect­ing the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive shall be spec­i­fied in the light of the ac­tual sit­u­a­tion in the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion and in ac­cor­dance with the prin­ci­ple of grad­ual and or­derly progress. The ul­ti­mate aim is se­lec­tion of the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive by univer­sal suf­frage upon nom­i­na­tion by a broadly rep­re­sen­ta­tive nom­i­nat­ing com­mit­tee in ac­cor­dance with demo­cratic pro­ce­dures.” In an al­most “prophetic” ar­ti­cle she penned for a lo­cal news­pa­per, Car­rie Lam, then chief sec­re­tary for ad­min­is­tra­tion, made an ap­peal to Hong Kong peo­ple to ac­cept the po­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties stip­u­lated in the Ba­sic Law in or­der for univer­sal suf­frage for the chief ex­ec­u­tive elec­tion ear­lier this year to be some­thing more than just a pipe dream: “I am gen­uinely con­cerned that if peo­ple re­tain their own stance, re­fus­ing to re­turn to the le­gal frame­work of the Ba­sic Law or ac­cept the po­lit­i­cal re­al­ity, univer­sal suf­frage for the 2017 elec­tion will be­come noth­ing but a cas­tle in the air. And once again, our demo­cratic process will reach an im­passe.”

Whether it is in the past, the present or fu­ture, the gen­eral ap­peal for a bet­ter grasp of the Ba­sic Law is a no-brainer, re­ally. As res­i­dents of Hong Kong, it is our duty to abide by the le­gal frame­work that gov­erns the city — which is the Ba­sic Law. I strongly urge those who have doubts about“one coun­try, two sys­tems” to have a thor­ough read of the Ba­sic Law — there are more peo­ple out there in­ten­tion­ally mis­in­ter­pret­ing the Ba­sic Law than you think.

I strongly urge those who have doubts about ‘one coun­try, two sys­tems’ to have a thor­ough read of the Ba­sic Law — there are more peo­ple out there in­ten­tion­ally mis­in­ter­pret­ing the Ba­sic Law than you think.

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