The profound intention underlying the design of the new electoral system is to lead society back to the principle of balanced participation, prevent radical politics, and ensure that the overall interests of Hong Kong are safeguarded more effectively.
After Hong Kong was hit hard by violent riots in 2019, the Central Government resolutely turned Hong Kong’s crisis into opportunity at the national level. It first enacted the Hong Kong National Security Law and then made improvements to the electoral system for Hong Kong, which are measures at the institutionally foundational level to turn chaos into order to safeguard Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability and enable “One Country, Two Systems” to function steadily and sustainably. With regard to the latter, after the NPC on 11 March 2021 adopted a decision on improving the HKSAR’s electoral system and the NPC Standing Committee on 30 March 2021 voted to adopt the amended Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law concerning the methods for the selection of the HKSAR Chief Executive and the formation of the HKSAR Legislative Council (LegCo), the HKSAR also raced against time to carry out related local legislative work. After two months of “overtime” deliberation, the LegCo on 28 May eventually passed the Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021 (Bill) submitted by the HKSAR Government, marking the official start of the new democratic electoral system in Hong Kong and ushering in a new era of “patriots administering Hong Kong”.
Unveiling a new era of “patriots administering Hong Kong”
The over 2.38 million signatures collected in support of electoral changes and the findings of a related poll show that mainstream public opinion is very supportive of improving Hong Kong’s electoral system. I have been successively elected as the Chairman of the LegCo’s subcommittee to discuss the NPC’s “Decision” and the Chairman of the Bills Committee to review the Bill submitted by the HKSAR Government. Over a combined total of 17 meetings that lasted a total of 47 hours held by the two committees, I noticed that my fellow LegCo colleagues and members of the public enthusiastically expressed their opinions, many of which were accepted by the HKSAR Government to further improve the Bill. All these show that everyone was eager to improve the electoral system to help Hong Kong’s political system get back on track and put an end to the political quagmire that has plagued it for many years, refocusing on improving both the economy and people’s livelihood and addressing deep-seated problems such as housing and land.
When the LegCo deliberated on the Bill, the utmost important thing was to ensure that the principle and spirit of improving the electoral system are faithfully applied in the specific arrangements of the system. Simply put, it means returning to the original intent of “One Country, Two Systems” and fully realizing “patriots administering Hong Kong” to safeguard the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability. The new electoral system appropriately plugs the loopholes to prevent and stop people with a hidden agenda from abusing Hong Kong’s electoral system as a platform to oppose China and destabilize Hong Kong by getting into the LegCo to hamper the HKSAR Government’s law-based governance and then grab the power to govern Hong Kong. It also establishes a democratic system with Hong Kong characteristics that meets Hong Kong’s realities and smoothens the relationship between the executive and legislature to enhance the efficiency of the HKSAR Government, creating favorable conditions for Hong Kong’s good governance and long-term peace and security.
Conducive to “One Country, Two Systems” functioning steadily and sustainably
The profound intention underlying the design of the new electoral system is to lead society back to the principle of balanced participation, which not only is the primary principle for the initial construction of the HKSAR’s entire political electoral system, but also runs through the systems for electing the Chief Executive and the LegCo. Of which, the re-establishment of the Election Committee and the renewal of the LegCo’s composition are intended to better reflect broad representation and “balanced participation” in order to break down the limitations on the interests of individual sectors, districts or groups and put an end to radical politics, ensuring the overall interests of Hong Kong are safeguarded more effectively. In addition, empowering the Election Committee to nominate and elect the Chief Executive and LegCo members is to enhance the smooth communication between the executive and the legislature and consolidate the executive-led system through their same voter coverage. Also, the establishment of the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee is to set up a more thorough mechanism to comprehensively review the qualifications of the candidates for the Election Committee, the Chief Executive and LegCo members to prevent people who oppose China and destabilize Hong Kong from entering the HKSAR’s governance structure through loopholes in the electoral system.
“Balanced participation” safeguards overall interests
Unfortunately, a handful of people in society are still having doubts or even reservations about the new electoral system for various reasons, e.g. the most often heard is that the removal of the one-person-one-vote component in the new system is a “democratic regression”. However, as mentioned earlier, this is actually an arrangement to turn chaos into order and enhance “balanced participation”. Moreover, there is no one-size-fits-all model for democracy. Even Western countries that are constantly flaunting “democracy” do not themselves fully adopt the “one person, one vote” electoral model. People who criticize the new electoral system for representing a “democratic regression” often look to the United States for leadership, but they do not apply the same standard to complain that the US president losing the direct election while winning the indirect election is a “democratic regression”, which only raises suspicions that they want to continue using “democracy” as a slogan to disguise their shady “anti-China and anti-communism” intentions. At the current initial stage of implementing the new electoral system, the Government should particularly intensify publicity efforts to enhance public awareness of the profound significance behind the improvement of the electoral system to thoroughly eliminate similar misunderstandings and rumors.
Looking ahead to the next nine months, three very important elections - elections for the Election Committee, the LegCo and the Chief Executive - will be held in sequence. Under the new electoral system, all those who support “One Country, Two Systems” and love the country and Hong Kong, whichever side of the political spectrum they fall on, can freely exercise their right to vote and to be elected in accordance with the law. The general public also eagerly hope that through this, virtuous and worthy people who sincerely love the country and Hong Kong are elected to public office, so that Hong Kong can gradually progress along the new democratic path towards the ultimate goal of universal suffrage for the Chief Executive and the LegCo in accordance with the Basic Law, while advancing to a better tomorrow of good governance.
This is a free translation. For the exact meaning of the article, please refer to the Chinese version.
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