Date
22 July 2017
Legco chief Jasper Tsang said discussing the feasibility of Hong Kong independence is out of the question. Photo: HKEJ
Legco chief Jasper Tsang said discussing the feasibility of Hong Kong independence is out of the question. Photo: HKEJ

Jasper Tsang urges next HK govt to settle political reform issue

The new government to be formed next year should seek to settle the issue of political reform as soon as possible for it holds the key to the successful implementation of the “one country, two systems” framework, Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said.

In an interview with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Tsang said it is time to review the reform package as almost a year has passed since it was vetoed by lawmakers.

He urged the next government to conduct extensive consultations by establishing an effective platform for communications to gather opinions from every sector of society.

In June last year lawmakers vetoed the reform package proposed by the current government for the 2017 chief executive election, in which a nominating committee would screen prospective candidates for the post.

The pan-democrats want citizens to directly vote for their next leader without the candidates having to be pre-selected by a committee.

Stressing the importance of an effective platform for consultation, Tsang said he doubted if the public would accept a reform package in which their views were not incorporated, even if Legco passed that package.

However, it remains to be seen if the social atmosphere would turn more practical after the Legco elections this year and the chief executive election in 2017 so that both the central and Hong Kong governments could conduct genuine consultations.

Asked if the platform he is proposing would be criticized by the pro-establishment camp as favoring the pan-democrats, Tsang said it would be wrong to assume that the key to the successful implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle lies in suppressing the pan-democrats and quelling the opposition.

He said he believes Beijing is inclined to ease political tensions in Hong Kong as indicated by the visit next week of Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, to participate in an economic summit related to China’s “One Belt, One Road” program.

However, he does not foresee any meeting to be held between Zhang or any other senior official from Beijing and members of local parties before the Legco elections scheduled in September.

On the issue of self-determination after 2047 as raised by some radical groups, Tsang said such a discussion would be meaningful only if it is about whether “two systems” should continue after then.

Discussing the feasibility of Hong Kong independence is totally out of the question, he said.

Tsang also urged Hong Kong people to separate localism from the issue of independence, noting that the former is consistent with the “one country, two systems” principle as it involves local characteristics such as ideology and values.

Beijing will reconsider whether the “one country, two systems” policy is worth keeping if it is seen seen to be creating more trouble for local governance than benefits, he said.

Tsang has launched a think tank called Hong Kong Vision Project, which will focus on various issues facing the city, including governance, education and the economy.

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TL/AC/CG

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