Tung Chee-hwa, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, delivers a speech during a conference organized by Our Hong Kong Foundation in south China's Hong Kong, March 12, 2021. TO GO WITH "Interview: Tung Chee-hwa calls for concerted efforts to regain order, prosperity in Hong Kong" (Xinhua)
HONG KONG, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) would bring the legislature operation and the government administration in the HKSAR back on the right track, while implementing the "patriots administering Hong Kong" principle would open up a new perspective in tapping human resources, the first HKSAR Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa has said.
Hong Kong residents should strive together in unity to usher in a golden era featuring Hong Kong's shift from chaos to order and from order to prosperity, Tung, now vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
"PATRIOTS ADMINISTERING HONG KONG" NOT MEANT FOR SUPPRESSING OPPOSITION
China's top legislature on Tuesday voted to adopt the amended Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law of the HKSAR, systematically amending and improving the methods for the selection of the chief executive and the formation the Legislative Council (LegCo).
The amendments were passed at the closing meeting of the 27th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC).
Improving Hong Kong's electoral system would provide bigger room for participation of different political organizations across the political spectrum, Tung said.
"Different places around the world have different electoral systems, be it the United States, Britain, India or Singapore. Could anyone say which one is the best?"
"The ultimate test for any method of election is whether it brings happiness and well-being for the people," he said.
Some people may have the concern that the central authorities improved Hong Kong's electoral system and implemented the "patriots administering Hong Kong" principle with the purpose of suppressing opposing opinions. In response, Tung said the "patriots administering Hong Kong" principle does not aim at the opposition, but rather at the small number of anti-China disruptors.
"Hong Kong is a diversified society, with residents' rights and freedom guaranteed by the Basic Law," Tung said.
"Residents have been allowed and will continue to be allowed to express opinions against a particular policy or even to criticize government officials, as long as it is done lawfully on the basis of respecting national sovereignty, security and development interests," he said.
"Hong Kong offers a broad space for political participation for those who are willing to sincerely uphold the constitutional order as set out in the Constitution and the Basic Law, make solid contribution to Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability, and draw a clear line between themselves and the anti-China disruptors," said Tung.
The chaos in Hong Kong in the past several years showed that a small number of anti-China disruptors exploited the loopholes of the electoral system to worm their way into the administration structure of the HKSAR, gravely endangering national security and people's well-being, Tung noted.
Therefore, the central authorities acted from the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong" to improve Hong Kong's electoral system, so as to plug the loophole from the root and ensure the steady and sustained implementation of "one country, two systems," he said.
STRIVING FOR PROSPERITY TO REGAIN GLOBAL ROLE
For the past few years, Hong Kong has undergone a series of political events, and has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic since last year. As a result, Hong Kong's economic development and people's livelihood have been hardly hit.
Under these circumstances, improving the electoral system will help Hong Kong walk out of the chaos and lay a solid foundation for the prosperity and stability of its economy, Tung said.
"As a highly open and export-oriented economy, Hong Kong needs to attract investors and tourists from all parts of the world. A peaceful social environment has always been the cornerstone of Hong Kong's past successes," he said.
Facts proved that the 2014 illegal "Occupy Central" movement and the social unrest over the proposed amendment bill in 2019 have severely undermined Hong Kong's social stability and eroded the confidence of investors and tourists, causing a very adverse impact on Hong Kong's economy.
Improving the electoral system will help protect Hong Kong's economic development from being kidnapped by vicious electoral politics and prevent various political forces from disturbing the market through elections, he said.
The "two sessions" in March endorsed the 14th Five-Year Plan of the nation, in which the central government expressed explicit support for Hong Kong in upgrading its position as a global finance, shipping and trade center as well as a global aviation hub, and building itself into an international center for science and technology innovation and a leading center for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region.
Tung expressed full confidence in Hong Kong's future development.
"The Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR has helped Hong Kong move from chaos to order, but only restoring social stability is not enough. We now need to strive for prosperity."
The country's deepened reform and rapid development have presented unprecedented opportunities for Hong Kong. The central government highly values Hong Kong's role in advancing the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Hong Kong has been identified as one of the core engines of the region, he said.
"By participating in the national strategies such as the 14th Five-Year Plan and the Greater Bay Area, I believe Hong Kong will surely have an economic takeoff once again," said Tung. "The key point is to promote the public's knowing and understanding of the country, and foster Hong Kong residents' broad vision and national concept."
BUILDING A CITY OF HOPE
Tung, as the first HKSAR chief executive, was deeply touched by the development of Hong Kong since its return to the motherland.
"We should work together to build a Hong Kong with booming economy, thriving culture, revitalized businesses and harmonious families and a Hong Kong where the poor and the sick feel warmth, the grassroots live with dignity, the middle class give full play to their strengths, and young people regain hope," he said.
"I often tell foreign friends that China is able to make world-renowned miracles just in a few decades and the secret is 'the whole country serves the people and all people serve the country,'" said Tung.
Adhering to the principle of people first and continuously delivering on people's aspirations for better life are the targets that Hong Kong should strive for, he said.
As one of the richest cities in the country, Hong Kong has the capability, resources and the responsibility to solve the needs and aspirations of the people so that the whole society can share the fruits of economic development, he said.
Noting that Hong Kong is now facing deep-rooted problems such as housing shortage, the extreme disparity between the rich and the poor, and difficulties in future development of young people, Tung believes that a multi-pronged approach should be taken to address these accumulated and complicated problems.
"We should continue to give our residents a greater sense of fulfillment, happiness and security so as to build Hong Kong into a city of hope where people can live and work in peace and contentment, and live out their dreams," he said.
He also encourages the young people in Hong Kong to explore the long history and splendid culture of the country and to see themselves the great development and broad prospects of the country.
DETERMINATION, COURAGE, VISION NEEDED TO ADDRESS HOUSING IN HONG KONG
Tung viewed housing as the most outstanding and pressing problem entrenched in the Hong Kong society.
To solve the housing issue, the HKSAR government needs not only resources, technologies and talents, but also, in particular, firm determination, great courage and ambitious vision, he said.
"We should learn from the mainland. The central authorities unveiled the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) and the long-range objectives through the year 2035, which has outlined the roadmap for national development in the next 15 years, demonstrating the central government's determination, courage and vision," Tung said, adding that Hong Kong also needs a long-term plan to address the housing issue.
The housing problem in Hong Kong lies in the shortage of land supply. According to a study of think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation, Hong Kong needs more than 9,000 hectares of new land over the next three decades.
Tung believed that the large-scale reclamation plan outside the Victoria Harbor put forward by Our Hong Kong Foundation and the HKSAR government's Lantau Tomorrow Vision (LTV) to build a reclaimed island off the Lantau island are the most effective methods to increase land supply in Hong Kong.
Tung said it is imperative to reach a consensus in the Hong Kong society to seek a solution for the housing issue.
As the proverb goes "One shall have his peace of mind when he possesses a piece of land," housing concerns the long-term stability and prosperity of Hong Kong as well as the livelihood of every Hong Kong resident.
Tung called on Hong Kong residents to support the HKSAR government in solving the housing shortage problem by discarding political disputes and vested interests for the overall interests of the Hong Kong society and the long-term well-being of Hong Kong residents. Enditem