中文版本
HONG KONG HUMAN RIGHTS MONITOR

Press statement for immediate release (4 pages)
Enquiries:  Mr. Law Yuk Kai (Director)  (852) 9788 3394

One Key Stance and Five Guiding Principles
for the Constitutional Review Task Force


The Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor appeals to the Task Force on constitutional review in Hong Kong today for the adoption of five guiding principles.  We also urge the Task Force to clarify that its basic stance of siding with the Hong Kong public so it does not to become an enemy of the people by ignoring them or even betraying them.

The Task Force, headed by the Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang, was set up by the Hong Kong SAR Government to "seriously examine ... those [issues] concerning the understanding of the relevant provisions of the Basic Law, and to consult relevant authorities of the CPG".

The Task Force would not have been established if not for the Central Government's communication to the Chief Executive that sufficient discussions with the Central Government on the principles and procedures in the Basic Law related to constitutional development in Hong Kong must take place before settling on whatever arrangements are to be made.  The Monitor is concerned that any discussions or consultation with the Central Government at this early stage could probably result in the restriction, if not dictation, of the options available to Hong Kong people in the consultation procedure and the timetable.  The Monitor thus urges that the Task Force and the Hong Kong SAR Government side with the Hong Kong people and vigilantly defend their rights.  Likewise, the Hong Kong public is obligated to constantly monitor the authorities to ensure that the interests of Hong Kong and the public will be fully defended in the process. 

One Key Stance – Siding with Hong Kong People

While the Task Force emphasizes repeatedly the need to clarify with the Central Government on the “relevant principles and legislative process of the Basic Law relating to constitutional development”, the Monitor urges the Task Force not to scarify the interests of the Hong Kong people.  Voices and concerns of the Hong Kong people should be carefully listened and fully reflected in its negotiation with the Central Government.  The Monitor would like to remind the Task Force that hundreds of thousands of people have already expressed their support for full democracy by taking to the streets and/or by going to the polling stations.  Any distortion of public opinion would not only risk Tsang’s support rate, but also place the Government in a position of being against the people, forcing the people to once again manifest themselves in movements of people’s power.

Five Guiding Principles

The remarks by Donald Tsang that he drinks Hong Kong water and has Hong Kong blood in his heart have provided us with little comfort.  After all, the water he drinks is probably from Mainland China as Hong Kong imports a lot of water from there.  The Task Force should instead adopt clear guiding principles in their work that would guard against the betrayal and exclusion of the Hong Kong people in the process.

The Monitor fears that the interests of Hong Kong people may be betrayed if the Task Force does not operate in accordance with these principles. The civil and political rights of the Hong Kong people need to be defended in light of the record of the Hong Kong SAR authorities seeking to please the Chinese authorities at the expenses of Hong Kong.

The five principles proposed by the Monitor are:

1. Transparency

Whatever the outcome of the current constitutional review, it will affect the future of Hong Kong and its people.  The Monitor therefore urges for Hong Kong people’s rights to information be fully respected and call for the greatest transparency on the negotiations between the Task Force and the Central Government.  Hong Kong people should be well informed throughout the process, rather than being kept in the dark they were during the Sino-British negotiations in the 1980s.  The Task Force should inform the public of the latest developments by posting on the Internet comprehensive reports of each and every meeting or communication with the Central authorities and their representatives.  Every effort should be made to facilitate the press to cover all relevant occasions and provide them with full information. The Government should of course report to and be questioned by the Legislative Councillors regularly. The public will then have the opportunity to monitor the development and give informed opinion to the authorities.

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa said, "We have now come to the conclusion that the best way is for us to communicate very, very openly and talk through all these issues both in Hong Kong, and in Beijing so that we can then be better prepared to move forward." We hope that he and his Administration, including the Task Force, would honour such a promise of transparency.

2. Public Participation

Not only should the Hong Kong people be informed of the latest developments, the public should also be encouraged to express their views during the process and be consulted effectively.  In the press conference on 7 January 2004, Tsang only promised to “shortly meet the Legislative Council, District Councils, the legal sector, academics and other sectors.”  What about the general public?

The Task Force already has a designated email account to collect opinions and has promised to develop a website on constitutional development.  However, that is not enough.  In Kenya, the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission not only held major academic seminars to discuss constitutional review, but also carried out community education programmes and hosted 212 public hearing sessions around the country to listen to the concerns and opinions of the people.  The Monitor hence calls on the Task Force to take similar initiatives to encourage public participation.  It should deploy sufficient resources to carry out public hearings in local communities and conduct civic education programmes on constitutional review (e.g. through a funding scheme run by the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education), so that the public will receive sufficient information and have adequate opportunity to participate in the discussion.  Means of participation should be made easily accessible for all sectors of the society.

3. Respect the views of the Hong Kong public

It is not meaningful to merely pay lip service about consulting the public but in fact to ignore their views because their views are different from the authorities'.  All views should be respected and not be brushed aside to clear the way for the Central Government’s views or the Hong Kong authorities'.  In no case should the authorities seek another “interpretation of the Basic Law” to pre-empt the Hong Kong people's call for genuine universal and equal suffrage.  Any such an attempt to twist the Basic Law for political convenience will only undermine the authority of the Basic Law and the legitimacy of the whole constitutional review exercise.

Any decisions that are made should truly reflect the views of the Hong Kong people.  The Monitor urges the Government not to manipulate the consultation and to refrain from distorting public opinion.

4. Abide by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

China has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which is applicable to Hong Kong under a decision of the Central Government and under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.  The Task Force and the authorities must unequivocally declare and effectively ensure that any principles or legislative procedures regarding the review of constitutional development and all the proposals arising there from, should conform to the standards laid down in the Covenant.

Article 25 of the ICCPR provides that every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity to vote and to be elected at elections by universal and equal suffrage. The standards laid down in the Covenant include the “right and opportunity" of every citizen "to vote and be elected,” "without distinction," "without unreasonable restrictions," in “genuine,” “periodic elections,” "by universal and equal suffrage," "held by secret ballot," "guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors." 

Any conclusion of the current constitutional review that is inconsistent with the standards laid down in the Covenant will be contrary to the acknowledged rights of Hong Kong people and will be condemned by international society, making the “Asia’s World City” a mere empty slogan.

5. Impartiality

The Government does not have an impressive track record of genuine consultation.  In order to enhance public confidence and to truly listen to the voices of the public, the Monitor urges the Government, after consulting the Legislative Council, to appoint an independent body to monitor and assess the overall pubic consultation process, including the analysis of public opinions by the authorities, to ensure that the consultation results will impartially and truly reflect the views of the Hong Kong people. 

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