Thursday, December 01, 2005


Tsang's address gets high marks

中國日報香港版 By Joseph Li

Tsang's address gets high marks

Straightforward manner of CE clarifies positions and difficulties

Major political parties, though not all, were impressed by Chief Executive Donald Tsang's televised speech on constitutional development in Hong Kong.

Some members of the "pan-democratic camp" voiced their insistence against the Fifth Report of the Constitutional Development Task Force, however.

Democratic Alliance for Betterment & Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) Vice-Chairman Lau Kong-wah said Tsang was telling the people of Hong Kong in a plain, straightforward manner that constitutional development in Hong Kong was at a crossroads. He was also making a final appeal to opposition legislators.

"I think he has been sincere about getting his message across to the people, in the hopes that they will pressure the legislators who oppose the package," Lau said.

"But the attitude of six or seven opposition legislators is key to getting the package through. I think this is very difficult because what they are asking for is a universal suffrage timetable. This simply can't be produced in two or three weeks.''

Liberal Party Chairman James Tien praised Tsang for clearly spelling out his message in just a few minutes. Tien also commended him for further clarifying the government package, his views on the timetable, and disagreement with the opposition.

"I certainly think (his speech) has something to do with the potential number of marchers on Sunday. He is actually trying to persuade citizens to push legislators they elected to vote for the package,'' he said.

He did not say whether Tsang's speech could win over more supporters. The government certainly has not gauged 40 votes by now, however, or Tsang would not have spoken on television or arranged a meeting with central government officials and the legislators in Shenzhen tomorrow.

Democratic Party Chairman Lee Wing-tat said Tsang was still delivering the same old message.

"The chief executive is saying nothing new, so the Democratic Party will not change its position and will say no to the package on December 21."

Referendum rejected

The Legislative Council (LegCo) yesterday voted down a motion that called for a referendum on the full implementation of elections by universal suffrage in 2007 and 2008.

The motion, put forward by legislator Leung Kwok-hung, also proposed that the SAR government arrange for all LegCo members to visit Beijing in order to convey public opinion on "dual universal suffrage''. It encouraged the people of Hong Kong to join the December protest against the government's reform proposals.

Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam responded by saying the SAR government had arranged for chairmen and deputy chairmen of the LegCo committee to exchange views in Shenzhen tomorrow with Qiao Xiaoyang, deputy secretary-general of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), and other Beijing officials on constitutional development.

Although the meeting was arranged at a short notice, the government agreed to invite people from a range of backgrounds to attend the meeting.

"I reiterate that the meeting is not intended to dampen Sunday's march,'' Lam said. "Citizens will have their own views on the march and the government will respect and listen to the opinions expressed by the petitioners.''

He added that there was no provision in the Basic Law for a referendum. "The SAR government thinks this is unnecessary and inappropriate. The motion is simply intended to overturn the NPCSC decision on the 2007-08 electoral arrangements and we think this does not comply with the constitution and the Basic Law."

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