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Wednesday, Jun 16, 2021

Electoral system changes get priority for Lam

Electoral system changes get priority for Lam

The Legislative Council can stop scrutinizing other government bills to prioritize discussions on electoral changes, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said.
Lam said this ahead of discussions by the National People's Congress standing committee of details of Hong Kong's electoral changes in a two-day meeting starting Monday, including the proportion of Legco seats in each geographical, functional and Election Committee constituency.

Speaking before the Executive Council meeting yesterday, Lam said she is happy the NPC will start scrutinizing amendments to the SAR's electoral system.

The government will not be able to table an amendment bill for law amendments immediately after the NPC standing committee passes amendments to the Basic Law's Annex I and II, but will do so as soon as possible, she said.

Its primary targets would be the three elections in the 12 months ahead - especially the chief executive election, which needs to be held by March for the elected candidate to take office on July 1 next year, Lam said.

"Another target would be ensuring Legco has as much time as possible to scrutinize the amendment bill," she said.

"The government does not think that the bill can be passed quickly or need not be scrutinized because most lawmakers in the chamber are from the pro-establishment camp."

She said she believed there will be frequent meetings in bill committees to allow enough time for lawmakers to scrutinize the amendments, and to do so, other government bills can wait.

Meanwhile, Lam also said comments by Robert Reed, a nonpermanent judge in the court of final appeal and the head of the UK's supreme court, reconfirmed that there is judicial independence in the SAR.

Reed earlier said he would quit as a nonpermanent judge in Hong Kong's top court if the situation reached a point where they could no longer serve with conscience. This came after senior London figures asked him to leave on the day the NPC passed the electoral changes.

Lam said: "The 'if' highlighted that it was a hypothetical situation, and what he said shows that there is surely nothing showing that judicial independence no longer exists or that the executive branch is intervening in judges' decisions."

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