'HK Doesn't Have Enough Lawmakers To Decide Reforms'

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2021-02-23 HKT 11:47

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  • Maria Tam said the SAR's current legislature cannot play a role in electoral reform because there are not enough lawmakers in the council. File photo: RTHK

    Maria Tam said the SAR's current legislature cannot play a role in electoral reform because there are not enough lawmakers in the council. File photo: RTHK

The vice chairwoman of the Basic Law Committee, Maria Tam, says the National People’s Congress Standing Committee will have to decide on reforms to the SAR's electoral system, because Hong Kong doesn't have enough lawmakers left to make such a move.

This comes after the head of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Xia Baolong, called on Monday for electoral reforms to stop people who “oppose China and disrupt Hong Kong” from taking up positions of authority.

Tam told an RTHK programme that the “five-step mechanism” for amending electoral methods, as stipulated in the Basic Law, cannot apply this time.

She said that’s because the arrangement requires the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all 70 Legco members, and there are simply not enough lawmakers left in the council after all the pan-democratic councillors were either disqualified or resigned.

"We are now faced with an unprecedented situation, that is we only have 44 legislators and there's a postponement [of elections]," she explained.

"So if any election-related changes are to be made, my personal view is they can only be done by exercising power stated in the constitution," she said, referring to an article that outlines the power of the National People's Congress to decide on the systems to be instituted in China's SARs.

Meanwhile, a local deputy to the National People's Congress, Ip Kwok-him, said he was not sure whether an NPC meeting in early March would handle the issue.

He told RTHK that he agrees with the need to reform the local electoral system, warning that without the changes, over 100 seats belonging to district councillors in the chief executive election committee would fall into the hands of people who "advocate mutual destruction for Hong Kong".

Civic Party chairman and former lawmaker Alan Leong, for his part, accused Beijing of trying to manipulate elections and appoint leaders in the SAR, saying this goes against the universal suffrage system that Hong Kong people were promised in the Basic Law.

He added that whether pan-democrats can run for office in future will be at the mercy of the central government.