HONG KONG: A senior official of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said Sunday that the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on the continuing discharge of duties by the sixth Legislative Council (LegCo) of the HKSAR followed the constitutional order and is in line with “one country” and respects “two systems.”
There is a need to postpone the election of the seventh-term LegCo, amidst the third wave of COVID-19 outbreak, to ensure that public safety is protected and a fair and open election is conducted, Teresa Cheng, secretary for justice of the HKSAR government, said in a blog article. “If the election is held as scheduled, group gatherings caused by electioneering activities by candidates would raise the risks of the spread of COVID-19,” she said.
Elderly voters might refrain from voting due to health considerations, said Cheng, adding that a large number of voters could not return to Hong Kong to cast their votes due to border control.
Cheng pointed out that the power to deal with the constitutional lacuna caused by the postponement of the election is never within the autonomy nor jurisdiction of the HKSAR, whether one is talking about the government or courts.
“When the government realizes that it does not have the power to resolve issues related to the lacuna arising from the postponement of the election, it is necessary for the highest state organ of power to handle the matter in accordance with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Basic Law,” she said.
Cheng stressed that the decision by the NPC Standing Committee, which has been made in accordance with the PRC Constitution and the Basic Law, expeditiously resolved the problem that the HKSAR could not handle on its own from a constitutional perspective.
She added that the decision also stated clearly that the seventh-term LegCo would have a term of four years as set out in the Basic Law, which obviates the need to amend the Basic Law.
“Now that the postponement of the election and the constitutional lacuna are addressed, we must fight the COVID-19 pandemic in solidarity and focus on our economic development and improving people’s livelihoods so as to keep our society moving forward,” she said.