Zhang to push case for electoral fixes

Beijing senior official Zhang Xiaoming will arrive in Hong Kong today to discuss changes to the SAR's electoral system, sources said. It is understood that Zhang, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, will hold a forum today regarding the National People's...

Staff reporter

Monday, March 15, 2021

Beijing senior official Zhang Xiaoming will arrive in Hong Kong today to discuss changes to the SAR's electoral system, sources said.

It is understood that Zhang, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, will hold a forum today regarding the National People's Congress' decision to "improve the SAR's electoral system."

Zhang will be in Hong Kong for at least three days, but he will stay in Shenzhen at night, according to sources.

The deputy head of the commission for legislative affairs in the NPC standing committee, Zhang Yong, will also attend the forum.

It is understood that dozens of forums will be held to collect views on the changes. Hong Kong delegates to the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, lawmakers and district organization representatives will be invited.

The visit by Beijing officials comes after the NPC passed a resolution to "improve" Hong Kong's electoral system on Thursday.

The resolution states that a candidate qualification review committee will be created to vet the eligibility of candidates for the Election Committee, chief executive election and Legislative Council.

The number of seats in Legco will increase from 70 to 90, and members to the Election Committee, which selects the chief executive and a portion of Legco members, will increase from 1,200 to 1,500.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's sole delegate to the NPC standing committee, Tam Yiu-chung, said local legislation for the electoral changes should be complete by May.

Tam said he expected that the NPC standing committee will have a meeting on the changes soon.

As the chief executive election will be held in March, he said local legislation for electoral changes should be completed this May, followed by voter registration and elections for members of the Election Committee.

Tam also said elsewhere that the law should stipulate that decisions made by the candidate qualification review committee are final and exempt from judicial review.

"If judicial reviews are allowed, it will be very complicated, and judicial reviews take time," he said.

"It would be better to state clearly that the decision is made by the committee and that the decision cannot be overturned," he said.

Tam also said the candidate qualification review committee should have a dozen members and not be only limited to retired judges.

He added that he believed there will be more representatives of national organizations in the Election Committee in the future, such as representatives from the All-China Youth Federation and All-China Women's Federation.

In a blog post, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung wrote that since the situation in Hong Kong was worrying, the central government had to take action to correct and improve the SAR's electoral system.

He added that based on the premise of loving country and Hong Kong, anyone can have the opportunity to participate in politics in accordance with the law.