Date
24 September 2017
Elsie Leung (left) is under fire from Kenneth Chan (right) and other politicians for suggesting Hong Kong is better off being a municipality of China. Photos: HKEJ
Elsie Leung (left) is under fire from Kenneth Chan (right) and other politicians for suggesting Hong Kong is better off being a municipality of China. Photos: HKEJ

Elsie Leung under fire for HK ‘China municipality’ comment

Former justice secretary Elsie Leung is under fire for suggesting voters will have a wider choice of chief executive candidates if Hong Kong were a municipality of China.

In a speech on Sunday, Leung said the central government has a high entry barrier for prospective candidates not because of distrust but because of worries about a potential constitutional crisis if Beijing does not accept Hong Kong’s elected leader, Apple Daily reported Monday.

Also, she said Hong Kong people do not fully understand the “one country, two systems” principle.

Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan accused Leung of trying to diminish Hong Kong and destroying the very principle which guarantees it a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after the 1997 handover to Chinese sovereignty.  

Chan said Beijing views Macau as an “obedient” special administrative region but that did not stop the central authorities from introducing an anti-subversion law in the former Portuguese colony.

In addition, there is no sign such positive behavior is going to influence Beijing into granting Macau people universal suffrage, he said.  

Lew Mon-hung, a former supporter of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, said Elsie Leung’s speech shows there is only “one country, one system” in her mind.

And commentator Willy Lam said turning Hong Kong into a Chinese municipality has deep implications. “Will the city mayor and the secretary be appointed by Beijing?” he said.

Leung made the remarks amid turmoil over Beijing’s proposed election framework for the 2017 Hong Kong chief executive election.

The proposal calls for the candidates to be screened by a nominating committee likely packed with Beijing loyalists and for any aspirant to have the support of at least half of the committee members in order to qualify.  

In her speech, Leung, who is also vice chairperson of the Basic Law Committee, said the Beijing framework is reasonable and that the screening committee is representative of Hong Kong society, the report said.  

“Some people have yet to accept the fact that Hong Kong has been handed back to China and they don’t fully understand ‘one country, two systems’ and the Basic Law, so Beijing believes political issues in Hong Kong should be handled cautiously,” Leung said.

“If people accept that we are a municipality of China, the entry barrier [for Hong Kong chief executive] would come down.”

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