31 August 2015 SCMP
Beijing warned it must address problems in concept’s implementation – or risk its demise
Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has called for an urgent review of Beijing’s implementation of the “one country, two systems” policy for Hong Kong, at the same time warning of its demise if the central government interferes more frequently in the running of the city.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Tsang suggested the winner of the 2017 chief executive election should set up a platform comprising representatives from various sectors to discuss the future of the governance formula and how to restart the city’s stalled political reform process.
The veteran Beijing loyalist has been uncharacteristically critical of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying since his brother Tsang Tak-sing left the post of home affairs minister. He said he was surprised and disappointed the central government had not conducted a thorough review of the implementation of one country, two systems in the past 18 years, particularly in regard to serious setbacks like the failed electoral reform process.
“The documents of the central government and state leaders’ speeches on Hong Kong only emphasised the achievements of one country, two systems,” he said. “But there are many problems exposed in the implementation of the concept in the past 18 years. Why did they happen? How should we resolve them?”
In a belated but surprisingly critical response to the controversial white paper issued by the State Council in June last year, Tsang said it had not reviewed the implementation of “one country, two systems” and only stressed the central government’s “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong.
The document sparked fears the high degree of autonomy Hong Kong enjoys would be undermined. “Sending these messages to Hongkongers in such an unruly and unsophisticated manner has unavoidably sparked a backlash among some Hong Kong people,” Tsang said.
Whether the “one country, two systems” formula would continue after 2047 would hinge on what happened over the next 32 years, he added, referring to the time left before the end of the 50-year lifespan of the policy.
“If Hong Kong is on the decline and the central government steps in on Hong Kong’s internal affairs more frequently, resulting in Beijing governing Hong Kong directly, it could spell the demise of one country, two systems,” Tsang said.
He cited the failure to enact national security legislation in 2003 and implement the national education curriculum in 2012 as examples of setbacks in the implementation of the concept.
“For people living in Hong Kong since the handover, it’s a matter of fact that the difficulties facing governance in the city are much bigger than in the first few years after the handover, and the situation is getting worse,” he said. The veteran politician stressed that reviewing the implementation of the guiding principle was an urgent task.
“There is a need for the chief executive elected in 2017 to set up a platform to discuss the future of one country, two systems after 2047 and how to relaunch electoral reform,” he said. He suggested the platform should have a status similar to that of the 180-strong Basic Law Consultative Committee in the mid-1980s that was endorsed by Beijing.
Tsang noted that in his report delivered at the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party in 2007, former president Hu Jintao said “a major task the party faces in running the country in the new circumstances” was to ensure long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macau”.
“But I have seen no systematic study on how to maintain Hong Kong’s prosperity,” Tsang said.
Loyalists not eyeing two-thirds majority
Optimism about Legco elections dampened after bungled reform vote, president says
The pro-establishment camp is not expecting to win a two-thirds majority in next year’s Legislative Council election following its bungled vote on the government’s electoral reform package in June, Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said.
Tsang, a leading light of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, made the remark yesterday, a month after his party was given the tough mission during a visit to Beijing.
“Some officials in Hong Kong and Beijing … are still dreaming about winning two-thirds of the seats,” Tsang said.
“This optimism was most obvious at the beginning of this year, because … the Occupy protests cost the pan-democrats public support, and the SAR government … was then optimistic that the political reform package would be approved.
“But I think in the last two months, it has been clearer that the pro-establishment camp won’t be eyeing a two-thirds majority,” he said.
In June, the Beijing-decreed reform package for the 2017 chief executive election was blocked after it failed to secure support from the required two-thirds of lawmakers. The pro-establishment camp has 43 seats in Legco and must win four more in September next year to secure a two-thirds majority and push through reform without the need to win over any pan-democrats.
Some 31 pro-establishment lawmakers walked out of the Legco chamber seconds before the vote on the package in the mistaken belief voting would be suspended. Pro-establishment legislators feared supporters would be disappointed by the fiasco.
Tsang said he thinks “Beijing officials, including those working in the liaison office, are still living in the aftermath of the bungled vote and licking their wounds”.
He also said optimism had been dampened by the fact that a third of Hongkongers were firmly opposed to the package.