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Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 14:11
Leaders back electoral reforms to ensure 'patriots governing HK'
By Gang Wen
Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 14:11 By Gang Wen

Hong Kong heavyweights on Monday endorsed electoral reforms to ensure patriots are the ones governing the city — a principle highlighted by the head of the central government’s top body overseeing Hong Kong affairs.

Addressing a symposium on Monday, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, underscored the pressing need to improve the city’s electoral system to ensure the city is governed by true patriots.

Asking administrators to be patriots is not a stringent standard, but rather a minimum requirement that is an internationally recognized norm, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said

In response to Xia’s remarks, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told reporters on a separate occasion that it’s natural to have only patriots governing the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and it is also a prerequisite of implementing the “one country, two systems” principle.

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According to the SAR’s Basic Law, the HKSAR comes directly under the central government and the CE shall be accountable to both the HKSAR and central government, Lam cited.

Asking administrators to be patriots is not a stringent standard, but rather a minimum requirement that is an internationally recognized norm, she said.

The Basic Law stipulates that those administrators include not only the chief executive, but also principal officials, lawmakers, judges, district councilors and civil servants, and they all should love the country and safeguard national interests, Lam said.

She added that as a pioneering undertaking, the “one country, two systems” principle will encounter different challenges in its implementation. Only by rectifying the problems in accordance with the law can the principle move forward and achieve better results, Lam said.

It’s natural for the central government to exercise its right to rectify an anomaly when it sees one, Lam continued.

READ MORE: 2021 political priority should be enhancing 'patriots governing HK'

Noting reforms of the SAR’s political system, to which the electoral system holds a key role, are always within the purview of the central authorities, Lam said her administration fully respects the central government in taking the lead on this issue and will do its utmost to cooperate.

She also said that in the next 12 months, there will be three key elections in Hong Kong — the Legislative Council election; the election of the Election Committee members, who are responsible for electing the chief executive; and the 2022 election for chief executive. Lam said she believes the central authorities will take into account the coming elections when considering the pressing need of electoral reforms.

Xia’s remarks were also backed by Hong Kong’s pro-establishment lawmakers. In a joint statement, more than 30 lawmakers said that past experience, especially the protracted protest violence in 2019, offered a key lesson for Hong Kong — allowing those who are unpatriotic to assume public office would be disastrous.

Only through full implementation of “patriots governing Hong Kong” can the city get rid of internal disturbances and have more room for “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy”, according to the statement.

READ MORE: 'Patriots governing Hong Kong' vital to stability of SAR

Tam Yiu-chung, a Hong Kong member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, also called for an early implementation of electoral reform, considering the disruptions that would follow having anti-government activists govern the city. He hopes the society can reach a consensus to prevent those disrupters from participating in the city’s administration.

Hong Kong business tycoon Peter Lam Kin-ngok, who chairs the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, said the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong” is in line with Hong Kong’s overall interests, as a stable society is conducive for the city’s deeper integration into the nation’s development.

Maggie Chan Man-ki, founding president of the Small and Medium Law Firms Association of Hong Kong, said the principle is the bottom line of Hong Kong’s electoral system. A Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress, Chan said she will submit a suggestion at the upcoming National People’s Congress session in early March that calls for establishing a vetting system for Hong Kong’s public officers.

gangwen@mail.chinadaily.com.cn

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