Tam Yiu-chung, a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress (NPC), said there is a chance for political reform to be restarted if society can reach a consensus to support the electoral framework set by Beijing in 2014.
He made the remarks on Sunday after he was elected as one of the 159 members of the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC), replacing Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai as the sole Hong Kong member of China’s top legislative body for the next five years.
Tam, former chairman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), received 2,941 “yes” votes, nine “no” votes and five abstentions.
Tam’s support rate was much higher than what Fan received five years ago, when the latter got 2,790 “yes” votes and 124 “no” votes, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Among the newly elected NPCSC members were Wang Guangya, former director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council; Li Fei, chief of the NPC Law and Constitution Committee; Basic Law Committee vice-chairman Zhang Rongshun; and Chen Sixi, deputy director of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Macau.
Commenting on his being elected with such a high number of votes, Tam said it showed NPC members think highly of Hong Kong. He promised to act as a bridge between Beijing and the SAR.
A sitting member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top political advisory body, said it is not a big deal to see some Hongkongers oppose Beijing’s policies as long as their opinions are based on the national constitution and the Basic Law.
Talking about the controversial political reform in Hong Kong, Tam said the decision made by the NPCSC on the matter conformed with the Basic Law and therefore should be supported by Hongkongers.
He said the premise to restart political reform is that society can form a consensus to accept it, otherwise achieving universal suffrage would be a long shot.
Former lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan, who is chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, disagreed, saying the fact that whether political reform can be restarted totally depends on Beijing suggests it is meaningless to talk about any premise at the moment.
On Aug. 31, 2014, the NPCSC Standing Committee set down its universal suffrage framework to allow “one person, one vote” in the 2017 chief executive election, but it also said candidates must secure the approval of half of the 1,200-member nominating committee and there could only be up to three candidates.
Critics said the framework only allowed a fake form of universal suffrage. The Legislative Council vetoed the reform package backed by Beijing and proposed by the SAR government in June 2015.
As for enacting Article 23 of the Basic Law, which requires Hong Kong to implement laws against treason, secession and subversion, Tam said when to do it and how to conduct consultation should be decided by the SAR government.
Asked if he thinks the NPCSC will interpret the Basic Law again, like it did in November 2016, in relation to the oath-taking of Legco members, Tam declined to speculate on the matter but said the NPCSC is entitled to do so, adding that its past interpretation was necessary.
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