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2017年行政長官選舉辦法意見書

2015/1/27 — 18:50

法政匯思 Facebook 專頁

法政匯思 Facebook 專頁

法政匯思就2017年行政長官選舉辦法公眾諮詢提交的意見書

A.        引言及摘要

1.         全國人民代表大會常務委員會 (“人大常委會”) 於2014年8月31日 作出決定 (“8.31 決定), 確定2017年香港特別行政區行政長官的選舉可以實行由普選產生的辦法。但 8.31 決定同時設下限制性的框架,包括使用提名委員會(“提委會”)沿用選舉委員會舊有的組成方式,亦提高成為行政長官候選人的門檻 。

廣告

2.         隨着 8.31 決定的通過,香港特別行政區政府 (特區政府) 於2015年1月發表了《行政長官普選辦法諮詢文件》(第二輪諮詢文件》), 就 2017 年在基於 8.31 決定的框架下選舉行政長官的辦法蒐集意見。

3.         法政匯思現撰寫並提交本意見書,就《第二輪諮詢文件》中所提出的議題及附帶事項,闡述法政匯思的立場及意見。 本意見書的摘要如下

廣告

(1)       人大8.31 決定設定的框架下的選舉辦法並無法律效力:

8.31 決定只確定了在法律上可於 2017 年實行由普選產生的辦法選出行政長官。8.31 決定中就選舉行政長官所設下的其他限制並無法律效力,而且只應被視為人大常委會優先的指引。因此,不論是根據法律規定或憲制責任,特區政府均無須按照此優先的指引限制《第二輪諮詢文件》的諮詢範圍,或對修改法案的建議內容作出限制。 

(2)       人大設定的框架並不符合基本法及其2004年釋法:

此優先的指引在任何情況下皆與《中英聯合聲明》的精神及原意並不相符,亦與《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》第 25 條通過《香港人權法案》第 21條 及《基本法》第 39 條於香港實施所賦予的憲制性保證及保障存在抵觸。

(3)       人大設定的框架意味著行政長官候選人不會有真正的選擇:

在香港的實際情況下施加此優先的指引,是不合理地限制了香港居民參與公共生活。尤其是 8.31 決定中有關提名委員會的組成方式及提委會為廣大選民提名行政長官候選人的程序的規定,並無為選民在行政長官選舉中給予真正選擇候選人的權利。 

(4)       「白票」方案製造的問題比其解決的問題多:

「白票」方案並無解決選民無法真正選擇候選人的問題,更可能需要修改《基本法》以填補若所有行政長官候選人在普選中落選並於在任行政長官卸任後的情況下所出現的行政權力真空。這破壞了《基本法》現時規定的機制。

(5)       一旦人大常委或立法會否決政改方案,特區政府有憲制責任重啟五部曲:

在「一國兩制」下, 人大常委會對立法會通過的修正案有最終批准或不批准的決定。如出現立法會否決特區政府的修改建議、或者人大常委會否決立法會通過後提交的行政長官產生辦法修正案的情況,特區政府必須按其憲制性的法律責任重啟有關行政長官選舉辦法的諮詢程序。若政府在出現上述兩者中任何一種情況下沒有重啟政改五部曲, 特區政府即違反其對人大常委會及於《基本法》下的憲制性責任。

(6)       任何符合人大8.31 決定的方案都不是普選方案:

現行的行政長官選舉辦法或任何在 8.31 決定的框架下產生的選舉辦法,都不應被視為普選。因此,將任何上述選舉辦法變成永久性的行政長官選舉辦法的任何企圖,皆違反《基本法》第 45 條的規定。

B.        8.31 決定

B.1      8.31 決定

4.         8.31 決定引發了廣泛的討論。特區政府認為,由於 8.31 決定是人大常委會的決定,特區政府須在憲制上嚴格依循 8.31 決定。

5.         法政匯思對特區政府的以上分析感到遺憾,並認為該等分析具誤導性,而且欠缺對《基本法》文意及框架中的正確憲法地位之解析的支持。特區政府對 8.31 決定的錯誤解讀直接促使眾多人士要求人大常委會檢討及撤回其決定。 

6.         同樣地該等要求亦違反人大常委會所定下的憲制程序,即是由特區政府提出修改其行政長官及立法會的產生辦法。因此,法政匯思認為解釋 8.31 決定具有相當重要性,而且我們更須說明,特區政府在向廣大市民錯誤告知 8.31 決定的影響一事上,應負有完全的責任。

7.         8.31 決定的影響主要有兩方面:

(1)       人大常委會因應香港的實際情況和循序漸進的原則,決定從 2017 年開始,香港特別行政區行政長官選舉可以實行由普選產生的辦法 (“該決定”)。

(2)       人大常委會就其批准可於 2017 年行政長官選舉實行的普選產生辦法及程序,作出了優先的指引,包括以下的規範和限制:

(a)       行政長官候選人將由一個有廣泛代表性的提委會產生;

(b)       提委會的人數、構成和委員產生辦法按照第四任行政長官選舉委員會的人數、構成和委員產生辦法而規定;

(c)       提委會按民主程序提名產生二至三名行政長官選舉候選人;

(d)       每名候選人均須獲得提名委員會全體委員半數以上的支持方可參選並經普選成為行政長官;及

(e)       行政長官必須由愛國愛港人士擔任。

(下稱 優先的指引)

8.         該決定具有憲法效力並在香港具法律約束力。原因如下:

(1)       《基本法》附件一第七條述明:「二○○七年以後各任行政長官的產生辦法如需修改,須經立法會全體議員三分之二多數通過,行政長官同意,並報全國人民代表大會常務委員會批准。」 (引文加入強調的標記)

(2)       人大常委會於2004年的解釋中[1] (“2004解釋) 中對上述 “如需作出解釋,要求須經過下列兩個步驟以確定是否有需要修改行政長官的產生辦法 :

(a)       是否需要進行修改,香港特別行政區行政長官應向人大常委會提出報告;然後 

(b)       由人大常委會根據香港的實際情況和循序漸進的原則確定。

(3)       8.31 決定中明文述明,8.31 決定本身是由人大常委會根據2004解釋的有關規定作出的。

9.         因此, 2004 解釋所賦予人大常委會的權力只限於就是否有需要修改行政長官的產生辦法作決定。

10.      2004 解釋並無賦予人大常委會作出該優先的指引的憲制權力。因此法政匯思認為 8.31 決定的內容除該決定以外,並無法律效力。

11.      再者, 法政匯思認為,特區政府宣稱受制於該優先的指引,是將政制改革的責任不公平地推卸給人大常委會。這相當於特區政府推卸其憲制責任、並破壞了「一國兩制」和《基本法》的框架。原因如下:

(1)       該優先的指引並無法律效力,充其量只應被視為人大常委會就其最終批准與否所作的表述;

(2)       中華人民共和國政府擁有香港的主權並有權在必要情況下作出該等指引。  但該等指引對特區政府並無約束力,除非與直至該等指引通過具法律效力的解釋使相關的《基本法》條文得到澄清或修改;

(3)       特區政府在憲制下應行使其獨立判斷。 當人大常委會作出該等指引時,特區政府有責任讓人大常委會及香港本地居民考慮該等指引是否適用於實際情況。 特區政府在法律上不能盲目採納該等指引。否則,「兩制」將失去其意義和作用;

(4)       作為主權國的代理機構,人大常委會已保留其對行政長官和立法會產生辦法的任何修正案的最終否決權。 該等程序確保並鞏固「一國」的實施;及

(5)       上述程序可被視為一種「憲制對話」,可保障「一國」及促進其中的「兩制」並使兩者之間建立互惠互利的關係。

12.      儘管如此, 法政匯思認為人大常委會優先的指引對香港居民參與公共生活施加了不合理的限制,並因此抵觸了:

(1)       《中英聯合聲明》的精神及原意; 及

(2)       《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》(公約) 第 25 條通過《香港人權法案》(人權法案) 第 21 條及《基本法》第39 條於香港實施所賦予的憲制性保證及保障。

13.      因此,法政匯思認為,該優先的指引可為廣大社區討論提供基礎及平台;但政府不應(而且在法律上亦不可) 將第二輪諮詢及提交立法會的修訂法案的內容,完全限制於該優先的指引的範圍之內。 

C.        政治改革的憲制基礎和普選的概要

C.1     中英聯合聲明和中央人民政府的基本方針政策

14.      在法律上,任何指稱1984年《中英聯合聲明》(聯合聲明) 是「無效」或不再適用的分析或評論均完全錯誤。

15.      法政匯思認為原因如下:

(1)       《聯合聲明》附件一提供了中華人民共和國政府對香港的基本方針政策 (基本方針政策) 的具體說明和基本法第 159(4) 條禁止《基本法》的任何修改違反基本方針政策;

(2)       基本方針政策要求包括香港的行政長官在當地通過選舉或協商的結果及基礎上產生,由中央人民政府任命(《聯合聲明》第三、四段和附件一第一部分),及所有國際協定,包括《公約》內適用於香港的有關規定繼續有效 (《聯合聲明》附件一第十一部分);及

(3)       在 1997 年 7 月 1 日以後適用於香港的條約的通知函件,已於 1997 年 6 月 20 日由中華人民共和國政府提交聯合國秘書長(通知)。

(4)       《基本法》體現了基本方針政策: 

(a)       在憲制層面上,《基本法》第 45 和 68 條保證在符合實際情況和按照循序漸進的原則下,行政長官和立法會可以由普選產生;和

(b)       在憲制層面上,《基本法》第 39 條保證及保障《公約》內適用於香港的有關規定。

C.2     《公約》在香港法律中的地位

16.      在憲制層面上,《基本法》第 39 條保證及保障《公約》內適用於香港的有關規定內的權利和自由。因此,在本港司法管轄權限之內,香港的選舉按照《公約》所保障的最低國際標準的要求,理應具有憲法效力。

17.      有意見認為,《公約》所保障的最低國際標準並不適用於香港,是因為《基本法》第 39 條中 「適用於香港的」的用詞包括所有《公約》 保留條文。[2]

18.      基於以下兩個原因, 我們認為在法律上應該把《公約》保留條文置之度外: 

(1)       《公約》保留條文已被香港特別行政區的實際情況取代,並已在法律上沒有任何影響。這是因為:

(a)          在先例的實情下,香港已建立了行政長官 (通過提名委員會) 和立法會 (通過各種直接和功能界別選舉) 的選舉;和

(b)          《基本法》規定了設立行政長官和立法會的選舉。在原則上,《基本法》應勝過被保留的《公約》條款。在 李妙玲律政司一案中,祁彥輝法官在其判決中指出,現行[《香港人權法案條例》]第13條不能被利用來作偏離《人權法案》第 21條所保證的權利的辯解[3] (因為《英皇制誥》要求建立一個民選議會);及

(c)          選舉一旦建立,就出現憲法義務去遵照《基本法》第39條所保證及保障的《公約》第25條所規定的選舉要求。聯合國人權事務委員會 (人權委員會),在1995 年 11 月 3 日發表之CCPR/ C/79/ Add.57 中的結論性意見第 19 段所載 : 「委員會察覺聯合王國 [英國] 作出的保留條文,即第25條並不要求建立由選舉產生的行政局或立法局。然而委員會採取的看法是,一旦確定立法局由選舉產生,則其選舉過程必須符合 [《公約》]第25條。」

(2)       在法律的解釋和理解方面,所有《公約》保留條文的解讀並沒有伸延至排除建立選舉行政長官的積極義務。這是因為:

(a)       採用普通含義和文本解讀,《公約》保留條文和《人權法案條例》第 13 條中所謂「行政 (Executive) 」指的是行政會議,而不是行政長官的職位;

(b)       在《公約》條文被保留的歷史背景下,在當時實行的《英皇制誥》(在第I,V和VI部分) 就香港的管治方面,依規定將須有一個總督,一個行政局和一個立法局。在《英皇制誥》內從未有過「行政 (Executive) 」的一般概念。相反,總督 (在1997年7月1日後,其職位的繼任者為行政長官) 則被視為獨立於行政局;

(c)       在《公約》的目標和宗旨方面,該《公約》的目的是對締約國施加積極責任,以鼓勵落實公民和政治權利。因此,《公約》的條文是有必要被保留,以確保英國不會違反其對香港的國際義務,而只是繼續殖民統治的制度;及

(d)       實際上,中國(其本身已有權)卻並沒有在通知中修正或更改《公約》的保留條文。

C.3     普選的最低要求

19.      如上所述,《公約》第 25(b) 條只保障有權參與自由和公正的選舉的最低標準。第 25(b) 條要求選舉須以下列方式建立:

(1)       選舉應該是不受任何身份歧視的影響。身份包括種族,膚色,性別,語言,宗教,政治或其他見解,國籍或社會出身,財產,出生或其他身份等差別;及

(2)       選舉的限制應僅基於客觀和合理標準。限制包括任何提名條件、或任何對登記參選以落實公民參與由選舉產生的職位的權利所作出的限制。參選的權利「不應該僅限於黨派成員或某特定黨派」。如果有提名程序,該提名「應該合理,而且不得對成為候選人構成障礙」 [4] ,這適用於針對任何選舉整體過程中的任何限制,包括最終確定誰有權參加選舉的提名機制和過程。

20.      因此,任何以針對政見為理由而設的參選限制,可能是違反憲法。此等限制必須經過仔細審視,以確保不會無理地將不利選舉條件強加於相當比例的合資格選民和候選人身上[5]

21.      再者,《基本法》第 25 及 26 條保障香港居民在法律面前一律平等的基本權利及香港永久性居民應依法享有選舉權和被選舉權;而《基本法》第 45 及 68 條亦提及行政長官和立法會由普選產生。 這些條款應被理解為保障同樣的最低標準。

22.      為使任何用普選形式進行的選舉符合《公約》第 25 條、《基本法》第 25, 26, 45 和 68條及《人權法案條例》第 21 條就憲制的要求,必須遵守以下的準則:

(1)       有關選舉 (在任何階段包括提名階段) 不應因候選人的政見及政治傾向而有任何優待或歧視;

(2)       負責該職務的人員應「被自由選出」。這不單是由「一人一票」選出,更包括符合以下要求的提名過程:

(a)       在提名階段有多元化的參與者,而各候選人有公平及實際的機會能獲得提名資格;及

(b)       提委會應能廣泛代表合資格選民,以避免有虛假或錯誤的障礙阻止任何人成為候選人。

(3)       這些準則不只適用於選舉辦法 (即「一人一票」),亦應包括提名辦法。 

C.4     行政長官的普選

23.      《基本法》第45條訂明:

香港特別行政區行政長官在當地通過選舉或協商產生,由中央人民政府任命。

 行政長官的產生辦法根據香港特別行政區的實際情況和循序漸進的原則而規定,最終達至由一個有廣泛代表性的提名委員會按民主程序提名後普選產生的目標。

 行政長官產生的具體辦法由附件一《香港特別行政區行政長官的產生辦法》規定。

24.      《基本法》第 45 條有關由普選產生行政長官的辦法應與《公約》第 2、25 和 26條、及《基本法》第 25 和 26 條,一併閱讀及理解。 除非符合以上條款,否則普選不能實現。這意味着:

(1)       香港永久性居民的選舉及被選舉權不可有任何帶歧視性或不合理的限制;

(2)       選民必須就候選人有真正自由的選擇,並必須有數個來自不同政治背景的候選人供選民選擇; 及

(3)       「一人一票」 - 每個合資格選民的選票必須佔相同比重。

25.      有關香港的「實際情況」:

(1)       8.31 決定定下先例確認香港已準備好進行行政長官以普選產生;

(2)       法政匯思認為,從客觀的角度來說,與很多近年過渡至民主政制的國家[6] (即其擔任政治職位的人員是由普選產生) 相比,香港具備更適合的條件並已建立完善的機構供實行民主政制。

26.      簡而言之,普選只可在提委會的構成及運作上根據下列準則的先提下實現:

(1)       無論是有關提委會的構成或提名的規則,都不能在設計或其他形式上,直接或間接地使任何人士因政見及其他主張,或《公約》第 2 條所提及的理由,而被剝奪其被選舉的權利。

(2)       《基本法》第 44 條[7] 已盡列擔任行政長官的所有條件,不可在提名過程中強加其他要求 (例如「愛國愛港」) 。

(3)       提名過程必須達致候選人的多元化;不單是數量上,更重要的是在政治立場上,以容許不同選民表達其不同的意願。此外,提名過程不應有決定行政長官選舉結果的效果,因為提委會在憲制上的授權只限於提名而並無其他,否則「一人一票」只能是提委會選出的候選人的橡皮圖章。 就這方面,法政匯思重複上述有關《公約》的意見。

27.      一個有「廣泛代表性」的提名委員會按「民主程序」作出提名必須以上述的框架內理解。       

D.        8.31 決定訂下優先的指引的分析

D.1     凍結提名委員會的組成方式

28.      我們質疑,當提委會沿用與第四屆行政長官的選舉委員會相同的組成和形成方式時、特別是當後者的組成是為了反映「均衡參與」以及在當時選舉行政長官須「滿足社會各階層的利益」的原則時、提名委員會如何可以在普選的情況下有足夠的「廣泛代表性」 。

29.      「廣泛代表性」和「均衡參與」是兩個不同的原則。廣泛代表性要求選舉權盡量寬闊。均衡參與要求某些利益團體符合足夠代表性。我們認為,兩者不是相互排斥的。但在民主制度下,當選舉考慮包括均衡參與時,均衡參與中的廣泛代表性就會提供制衡,防止個別利益團體過份被代表[8]

30.      因此,我們質疑這兩項原則如何可以在規定提委會沿用第四屆行政長官的選舉委員會組成方式這個背景下,互相協調。統計分析顯示,現在功能組別的分佈嚴重偏離廣泛代表性的原則。因此,提委會沿用舊有組成和形成方式是強加了不合理的限制,使社會繼續存在某些階層過份被代表和其他階層代表性不足的問題 。為此:

(1)       整個提委會應在普選的基礎上被選出。

(2)       如果功能組別繼續成為提委會的一部分:

(a)       提委會的組成應該進行全面改革,以準確反映2015年的香港社會狀況;及

(b)       整個提委會應由直接選舉產生,而且所有公司和董事的投票應予以廢除。這將能夠確保具有廣泛代表性原則的一致性。我們認為,沒有任何理由為何一名貨車司機或銀行經理不能夠在運輸業界或金融業界投票選出他們的提名委員會代表。

(3)       這些措施將確保選民基礎有廣泛代表性,同時體現均衡參與。

D.2     提名規則

 

31.      該優先的指引規定,每個候選人必須由超過半數的提委會全體委員的支持。法政匯思認為該指引違反《基本法》,理由如下:

 (1)       該指引違反了《基本法》保證和保障的普選的最低國際標準,因為它剝奪了選民對候選人的真正選擇,並實施了一個產生不民主結果的提名程序;

 (2)       該指引是倒退,而且未能符合《基本法》第45條規定下 「循序漸進」的原則;及

 (3)       該指引沒有充分顧及到香港的實際情況。

 32.      要求所有候選人通過爭取多數提委會委員支持以確保提名的規則顯然違反了普選的最低國際標準,而且是違憲的。強加 50% 的門檻使得在提委會內持有多數席位的政治集團能夠預先決定候選人:

 (1)       結果是,雖然一般的選民可以在不同的人選之間進行選擇,選民卻在不同政見的候選人之間沒有真正選擇。 不論提名委員會是否「廣泛」代表全部選民, 結果正是如此;

 (2)       這超越了提名委員會在憲制下的權限,並正正顯示出該選舉毫無意義。在這種情況下,我們看不出選民可以在不同的政治光譜的候選人之間有真正的選擇;及

 (3)       真正的選擇是在有代替品的情況下作出選擇。如果沒有選擇,就沒有民主;因為沒有選擇,不論是多數人的統治或者是「一人一票」,不論採用什麼形式,只不過是橡皮圖章。

33.      正是從這個角度,我們必須要理解這種提委會提名候選人的「民主程序」。顧名思義,「民主程序」必須至少保證一個民主的結果,即保證候選人在數字上和政治上的多元性,因為《基本法》的意圖不可能是實施一個產生不民主的結果的提名程序。

34.      此外,與 2012 年的行政長官的產生辦法相比,即容許候選人以選舉委員會全體委員 1/8 的支持去參選,一個候選人倘若必須得到過半數提委會委員支持的要求,則是一種倒退,而相關機構亦從未為這倒退提供合法理由。

35.      我們認為,對候選人的數目施加限制也缺乏合法理由[9]。這樣的限制無論在政治上、或是在法律上,都是無必要或不理想的 。

36.      再者,法政匯思質疑「愛國愛港」這標準的法律效力和根據。這樣的標準非但模糊、而且缺乏法律上的確定性的,因此應予免除。除了用作為根據政見或其他見解篩選候選人的藉口,我們看不出此標準的必要性或相關性。而這正正違反了《公約》第 2 和第 25 條、以及《基本法》第 25 和 26 條。

37.      我們亦認為香港的「實際情況」並未獲充分考慮(見《基本法》第45條)。相比於本港政黨、組織和個人提出的最保守的建議,8.31 決定似乎是更有限制性和更保守。8.31 決定後在香港發生了歷史上最大規模的佔領行動,此亦證明了參與者對此的不滿和失望 。

38.      因此,在本質上,優先的指引所設想之提名和選舉制度,實不能被描述為符合《基本法》第 45 條下的「普選」。

E.        第二輪諮詢文件》意見及回應

 

39.      對於《第二輪諮詢文件》中涉及討論的特定議題,法政匯思在以下作簡短的回應:

(1)       就有關提委會的構成及產生辦法,請參考以上第 28 段至第 30 段;

(2)       就提名行政長官候選人的程序,請參考上述第 31 段至第 38 段。 法政匯思認為,假若選民只能從獲得提委會全體委員過半數支持的候選人之間所謂有權「選舉」行政長官,那麼任何表面上「降低」提委會門檻以供提委會有權選擇更多行政長官「候選人」的說法根本並無實質意義;及

(3)       鑒於上述第 28 段至第 38 段 所表達的觀點, 法政匯思現階段將不就行政長官選舉的投票安排發表意見。

F.         有關「白票」方案的討論

40.      就香港大學法律學院陳弘毅教授提出的「白票」方案 (又稱「白票守尾門」方案), 法政匯思有以下的看法:

(1)       「白票」方案並沒有使根據該優先的指引下的制度更加民主,也沒有達至全民普選行政長官的實踐。「白票」方案只是產生一個新的方法,讓選民可以普選方式去投票否決獲提名的候選人 (普拒);

(2)       如引發「白票」機制而導致選舉宣布無效,根據《基本法》,提委會並無獲授權提名其所選擇的行政長官人選。提委會與選舉委員會憲法地位不同;憲法並沒有賦予提委會選舉行政長官的權力;再者,《基本法》下根本沒有預期或許可這種機制。如須實施此機制,必須對《基本法》作重新詮釋、甚至作出修改,以避免引起憲制性的漏洞;

(3)       倘若在沒有修改《基本法》而又容許提委會提名行政長官的情況下,一旦啟動「白票」機制,便須重新選舉行政長官。至於新一輪選舉如何進行、提委會是否需要解散,又或者同一名候選人是否可以從新參選等,都是困難重重的問題;

(4)       當然,上述困難並非沒有解決方法。可是,我們認為香港並不值得為此花上極大的政治精力及經濟代價去解決此等複雜問題。畢竟,「白票」方案只提供否決候選人的方法,但並沒有解決選民無法真正有權選擇候選人的根本問題。 此等民主性的欠缺,令整個全民普選的框架變成多餘。全民普選理應賦予選民有權利去選出其代表,而並非只有權利去否決個別候選人。

G.        重啓諮詢過程的憲制性責任

41.      在「一國兩制」下,人大常委會有最終決定權可批准或否決立法會通過的修正案。根據《基本法》,有關修改法案必須經立法會全體議員三分之二通過。 

42.      如立法會否決特區政府提出的修改法案或人大常委會否決立法會通過的修正案時,特區政府有憲制責任去重啓有關行政長官產生辦法的諮詢程序。這是因為:

(1)       在先例的實情下,人大常委會已決定有需要在 2017 年及之後以全民普選的方法去選舉行政長官; 及

(2)       在法律上,《基本法》第 45 條給予一個憲制性承諾並保障因應香港實際情況(即「如需」修改行政長官產生辦法的情況出現時)由普選方法產生行政長官。

43.      因此,如立法會否決修改法案或人大常委會否決立法會通過的修正案時, 特區政府便有責任重啓政改五部曲;否則特區政府即違反其對人大常委會及於《基本法》下的憲制性責任。

H.        有關特首選舉辦法將來有更改的可能性

44.      特區政府意圖提出根據 8.31 決定於 2017 年落實政改方案是向前邁進的「第一步」,並提出將來會有時間及機會對選舉辦法作進一步的修改。 法政匯思認為這是一個誤導的說法,因為:

(1)       8.31決定及《說明》中已清楚訂明有關選舉行政長官的方法會「從2017年開始」生效;

(2)       在憲制性及政治性的實際情況來看,政府已經把任何有可能或不可能作出修改的決定權完全交予中央政府。 我們察覺到,沒有中央政府具充分級別及地位的官員或代表曾親自清楚地表述或承諾 8.31 決定的框架在將來有改變的可能性、可修改的時間及可作修改的程度;及

(3)       在此情況下,如果最終依照該優先的指引而設立任何方法去選舉行政長官、並將之稱為全民普選的話,除非人大常委會及/或全國人民代表大會決定去修改或廢除 8.31 決定,否則這個設立的選舉方法可能會一直被沿用至2047年。

45.      在此基礎上,8.31 決定看來並不會在可見的將來作修改或被廢除;而這次所踏出的所謂「第一步」,可能實際上已是最終的一步。 在一個 8.31 框架下設立的方法下選舉行政長官、而倘若此方法又被認為並非屬於「普選」的話,則任何人企圖在此框架下設立選舉辦法並將之視為最終的選舉辦法,理應違反《基本法》第 45 條要求「循序漸進」並最終達至普選的規定。

46.      對於某些公眾人士最近指出,如果立法會議員否決現時建議的行政長官選舉方案,那麼 2022 年便再沒有機會修改之說法,法政匯思將以相若的結論作回應:既然現時選舉行政長官的制度(註: 假若現時建議的選舉方案被否決,現行制度即會維持不變至2017年) 根本不是普選,如果不提供任何修改建議而直接作為 2022 年的選舉辦法,這也是違反《基本法》第 45 條的規定。

法政匯思

2015 1 27

 


[1] 根據《基本法》第 158 條賦予的權力作出。

[2]   英國對香港保留了《公約》第25(b)條中,在香港建立經選舉產生的行政局和或立法局的積極責任(“《公約》保留條文”)。《公約》保留條文同樣體在現行《香港人權法案條例》第383章第13條。(“《人權法案條例》”)。

[3]    1994年HCMP1696A案件的第31段。

[4]    人權事務委員會一般性意見 No 25 (57) (CCPR/C.21/Rev.1/Add.7)

[5]        Secretary for Justice v Yau Yuk Lung Zigo & Anor (2007) 10 HKCFAR 335, 第一段; Fok Chun Wa & Anor v Hospital Authority (2011) 15 HKCFAR 409, 第77段.

[6]        參見Chan, Johannes and Harris, Lison 著, “the Constitutional Journey: The Way forward”, 載於Chan, Johannes and Harris, Lison (編), Hong Kong's Constitutional Debates (n 2), 第 143 – 169 頁.

[7]  《基本法》第44條述明: 「香港特別行政區行政長官由年滿四十周歲,在香港通常居住連續滿二十年並在外國無居留權的香港特別行政區永久性居民中的中國公民擔任。」

[8]         參見“關於《全國人民代表大會常務委員會關於香港特別行政區行政長官普選問題和2016年立法會產生辦法的決定(草案)》的說明”(“ 《說明》”),其中指出 “香港回歸以來行政長官的選舉實踐證明,選舉委員會能夠涵蓋香港社會各方面有代表性的人士,體現了社會各階層、各界別的均衡參與...”

[9]  《說明》中首先建議限制候選人數有助於避免出現問題,例如有太多候選人的話, 選舉程序將會變得複雜,也會引起很高的選舉成本。它並沒有實際說明實情會是如何。事實上,這並不意味著,如果候選人數是無限的話,選舉程序必然或邏輯上會比候選人數有限的更加複雜。 其次,《說明》建議由於過去的行政長官選舉是由兩個或三個候選人組成的,經驗告訴我們要限制候選人到這個數字。再者,我們很難理解邏輯上為何僅僅是因為過去的選舉由兩個或三個候選人組成, 而將來候選人的數目應限於兩個或三個(或為何候選人的數目應被限制) 。此外,我們應該謹記的是,過去的選舉不涉及普選。當我們使用該等選舉的框架作為對一個涉及非常不同的選舉模式作參考時,我們應特別謹慎留意 。

 

 


 

Public Consultation on the Method of Selecting the Chief Executive in 2017

Submissions of the Progressive Lawyers Group

 

A.        Introduction and Executive Summary

1.         On 31 August 2014, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (the “NPCSC”) issued a decision (the “8.31 Decision”) approving the selection of the Chief Executive of the HKSAR by universal suffrage in 2017.  The 8.31 Decision also included various restrictions to freeze the composition of the Nomination Committee (the “NC”) and to raise the threshold for candidature.

2.         Following from the 8.31 Decision, the HKSAR Government (the “Government”) published in January 2015 a Consultation Document titled “Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive by Universal Suffrage” (the “2nd Consultation Document”), seeking views on the method of selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 premised on the restrictions imposed by the 8.31 Decision.

3.         This document sets out the Progressive Lawyers Group’s position in relation to issues raised by and ancillary to the 2nd Consultation Document.  IN SUMMARY:

(1)       The NPCSC guidance on electoral methods in the 8.31 Decision does not have the force of law:

The 8.31 Decision only confirms as a matter of law that the Chief Executive may be selected by universal suffrage in 2017.  The other parameters for selecting the Chief Executive contained in the 8.31 Decision do not have the force of law and should be viewed as pre-emptive guidance by the NPCSC only.  The Government is therefore not required, as a matter of law or constitutional obligation, to limit the scope of the 2nd Consultation Document or to limit the proposed amendments for legislative endorsement in accordance with this pre-emptive guidance.

(2)       The NPCSC guidance provided is inconsistent with the Basic Law and its 2004 Interpretation:

The pre-emptive guidance is in any event both inconsistent with the spirit and purpose of the Sino-British Joint Declaration (the “Joint Declaration”), and with the constitutional guarantee and protection accorded by Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the “ICCPR”), as incorporated in the HKSAR through Article 21 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights (the “HKBOR”), and by Article 39 of the Basic Law.

(3)       The NPCSC Guidance means there can be no genuine choice of Chief Executive candidates

In particular, this pre-emptive guidance imposes, in light of the actual situation of the HKSAR, unreasonable restrictions on the right for Hong Kong residents to participate in public life.  In particular, the stipulation as regards the composition of the NC and the process to be undertaken by the NC in selecting candidates for the wider electorate do not give voters a genuine choice of candidates at the Chief Executive election.

(4)       The “Blank Votes” proposal creates more problems than it solves:

The “Blank Votes” proposal does not provide a solution to the genuine choice of candidates problem. It undermines the framework of governance as currently provided by the Basic Law which may require an amendmentto the Basic Law in the event of any lacuna in executive power when Chief Executive candidates are rejected by universal suffrage and when the incumbent Chief Executive’s term expires.

(5)       The Government has the constitutional duty to restart the 5 stage consultation process upon any veto from either the NPCSC or the Legislative Council:

Under “One Country Two Systems”, the NPCSC has the final authority to approve or not, the amendments endorsed by the Legislative Council.  In the event of either a Legislative Council veto on the Government’s proposed amendments or the NPCSC rejecting the method endorsed by Legislative Council, the Government is required as a matter of law (i.e. is constitutionally obliged) to restart the consultation process on the method of selecting the Chief Executive.  By failing to restart, in either scenario, the 5 stage consultation process (政改五部曲), the Government contravenes its constitutional obligations to the NPCSC and the Basic Law.

(6)       Any proposal conforming to the 8.31 Decision is not universal suffrage:

Any attempts to make permanent any Chief Executive selection arrangements under the current system or any system created under the 8.31 Decision are contrary to Article 45 of the Basic Law insofar as neither of these systems constitutes universal suffrage.

B.        The 8.31 Decision

B.1      The 8.31 Decision

4.         Much ink has been spilt over the 8.31 Decision.  The Government has taken a view that because the 8.31 Decision is one from the NPCSC, it is constitutionally bound to adhere strictly to the 8.31 Decision.

5.         We regret that such analysis from the Government is misleading and unsupported by analysis of the proper constitutional position in the context and framework of the Basic Law.  As a direct result of the Government’s misinterpretation of the 8.31 Decision, many have called for the NPCSC to review and reverse its own decision. 

6.         Such demands are likewise contrary to the constitutional framework set out by the NPCSC to enable the HKSAR to reform its election method for the Chief Executive and Legislative Council.  It is therefore important to explain not only why the 8.31 Decision is important, but also why the Government is squarely to blame for misinforming the general public as to the effect of the 8.31 Decision.

7.         There are in fact two aspects of the 8.31 Decision:

(1)       The NPCSC’s determination, in light of the actual situation in Hong Kong and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress, that the Chief Executive is to be elected in 2017 by way of universal suffrage (theDetermination”).

(2)       The NPCSC’s pre-emptive guidance as to the method and process of universal suffrage that it will approve for Hong Kong’s 2017 Chief Executive elections, including parameters and restrictions such as:

(a)       Chief Executive candidates will be chosen by a broadly representative NC 

(b)       The NC is to be comprised of identical numbers, composition and formation with those of the Election Committee for the Fourth Chief Executive;

(c)       The NC may endorse, through democratic procedures, two to three candidates to stand for general elections;

(d)       Only candidates endorsed by more than half of all the members of the NC may stand for general election and be elected by universal suffrage; and

(e)       A requirement that the Chief Executive elected shall be a person who loves the country and loves Hong Kong.

(the “Pre-Emptive Guidance”)

8.         The Determination has constitutional force and is binding on HKSAR. This is because:

(1)       Article 7 of Annex 1 to the Basic Law states that “if there is a need to amend the method for selecting the Chief Executives for the terms subsequent to the year 2007, such amendments must be made with the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all the members of the Legislative Council and the consent of the Chief Executive, and they shall be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for approval.” (Emphasis added.)

(2)       The NPCSC in 2004 interpreted[1] the words “if there is a need(the “2004 Interpretation”) as requiring a two step procedure to ascertain whether there is such a need, namely:

(a)       The Chief Executive of the HKSAR shall make a report to the NPCSC as regards whether there is a need to make such an amendment; then

(b)       The NPCSC shall make a determination on the same in the light of the actual situation in Hong Kong and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress.

(3)       The 8.31 Decision is expressly stated as being pursuant to the 2004 Interpretation.

9.         Thus, the power vested in the NPCSC by the 2004 Interpretation to make a determination relates to only whether there is a need for the method for selecting the Chief Executive to be amended. 

10.      The 2004 Interpretation did not vest any constitutional authority to the NPCSC to give the Pre-Emptive Guidance. We therefore consider that the stipulations in the 8.31 Decision other than the Determination do not have the force of law. 

11.      Further, we consider that the Government’s announcements that their hands are tied by the Pre-Emptive Guidance unfairly shifts the burden of elector reform proposals to the NPCSC.  It therefore amounts to a shirking of the Government’s constitutional obligations and undermines the framework of “One Country Two Systems” and the Basic Law.  This is because:

(1)       The Pre-Emptive Guidance does not have the force of law and should be treated at most only as a representation of what the NPCSC will not veto.

(2)       The PRC is the sovereign state and is entitled to issue such guidance towards Hong Kong when necessary.  Such guidance does not however bind the HKSAR Government until and unless there has been an interpretation to clarify, or an amendment to, the Basic Law which gives such guidance the force of law. 

(3)       The HKSAR Government is constitutionally expected to exercise its own independent judgment.  When such guidance is issued from the NPCSC, the HKSAR Government owes a duty to the NPCSC and to the local residents of Hong Kong to consider whether such guidance is applicable in light of the actual situation.  The HKSAR Government cannot, as a matter of law, blindly adopt such guidance.  Otherwise, the “Two Systems” is rendered meaningless and otiose.

(4)       The NPCSC, on behalf of the sovereign state, has reserved for itself the ultimate right to veto any legislative endorsement for the method of selecting the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council.  Such a mechanism secures and reinforces “One Country”. 

(5)       The process described is known as a constitutional dialogue which safeguards the “One Country” while promoting the “Two Systems” within it in a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship.

12.      Notwithstanding the above, we are of the view that the Pre-Emptive Guidance places unreasonable restrictions on Hong Kong residents’ participation in public life and are therefore inconsistent with:

(1)       The spirit and purpose of the Joint Declaration; and

(2)       Article 39 of the Basic Law which constitutionally guarantees and protects Article 25 of the ICCPR as incorporated in the HKSAR through Article 21 of the HKBOR.

13.      We are therefore of the view that whilst the Pre-Emptive Guidance may form the basis and platform for wider community discussion, the Government must not, and cannot as a matter of law, restrict the present round of consultation and proposed bill to the Legislature solely to the confines of the Pre-Emptive Guidance. 

C.        The constitutional basis of political reform and the contours of universal suffrage

C.1     The Sino-British Joint Declaration and Basic Policies of the Central People’s Government

14.      Any analysis or comment that the Joint Declaration is “void” or no longer relevant is entirely wrong as a matter of law.

15.      This is because:

(1)       Annex I of the Joint Declaration provides an elaboration of the PRC’s basic policies towards Hong Kong (“Basic Policies”) and Article 159(4) of the Basic Law prohibits any amendment of the Basic Law to contravene those Basic Policies; and

(2)       The Basic Policies include requirements that that Hong Kong’s Chief Executive be appointed by the Central People’s Government (the “CPG”) on the basis of the results of elections or consultations held locally (Paragraph 3.4 and Section I of Annex I to the Joint Declaration) and that all international agreements including the ICCPR as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force (Section XI of Annex 1 to the Joint Declaration); and

(3)       The Letter of notification of treaties applicable to Hong Kong after 1 July 1997 (the “Notification”) was deposited by the CPG with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 20 June 1997.

(4)       The Basic Law reflects the Basic Policies:

(a)       Articles 45 and 68 of the Basic Law constitutionally guarantee that in accordance with the actual situation, and by way of gradual orderly progress, the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council may be elected by universal suffrage; and

(b)       Article 39 of the Basic Law constitutionally guarantees and protects the ICCPR as applied to Hong Kong.

C.2     The Status of the ICCPR in Hong Kong Law

16.      Article 39 of the Basic Law constitutionally guarantees and protects the rights and freedoms contained in the ICCPR as applied to Hong Kong.  It therefore follows that the requirement that elections in Hong Kong be established in accordance with the minimum international standards as protected by the ICCPR has constitutional force in our jurisdiction.

17.      There are views that the minimum international standards as protected by the ICCPR do not apply to Hong Kong because the words in Article 39 of the Basic Law “as applied to Hong Kong” includes all reservations to the ICCPR.[2]

18.      There are two reasons why the ICCPR Reservation should be disregarded as a matter of law:

(1)       The ICCPR Reservation has been superseded by the actual situation in the HKSAR and has no effect at law.  This is because:

(a)       As a matter of precedent fact, Hong Kong has established elections for the Chief Executive (through a nomination committee) and the Legislative Council (through various direct and functional constituency elections);

(b)       The Basic Law requires the establishment of elections for the Chief Executive and Legislative Council.  As a matter of principle, the Basic Law trumps the ICCPR reservation.  See Lee Miu Ling v The Attorney General of Hong Kongper Mr. Justice Keith where he held that “section 13 [of the HKBORO] cannot now be used to justify a departure from the rights guaranteed by Art. 21 of the Bill of Rights[3](because the Letters Patent requires the establishment of an elected legislature); and

(c)       Once elections are established, there is a constitutional obligation to conform to the requirements of elections pursuant to Article 25 of the ICCPR as guaranteed and protected by Article 39 of the Basic Law. The United Nations Human Rights Committee’s (the “UNHRC”) Concluding Comments at CCPR/C/79/Add.57 of 3 November 1995 states, at paragraph 19, that: “The Committee is aware of the reservation made by the United Kingdom that article 25 does not require establishment of an elected Executive or Legislative Council.  It however takes the view that once an elected Legislative Council is established, its election must conform to article 25 of the [ICCPR].

(2)       The ICCPR Reservation did not extend the exclusion of the positive duty to establish elections for the Chief Executive as a matter of legal interpretation and construction.  This is because:

(a)       Applying an ordinary meaning and textual interpretation, the “Executive” in the ICCPR Reservation and Section 13 of the HKBORO refers to the Executive Council and not the Chief Executive’s Office; and

(b)       As a matter of general historical context in which the ICCPR Reservation had come into use, the Letters Patent (at Articles I, V and VI) in force in relation to the governance of Hong Kong provided that there was to be a Governor, an Executive Council and a Legislative Council.  There has never been a general concept of “the Executive” under the Letters Patent.  Instead, the Governor (whose successor office post-1 July 1997 is the Chief Executive) was treated as separate to the Executive Council; and

(c)       As a matter of the object and purpose of the ICCPR, the ICCPR’s purpose was to impose positive obligations against State parties to encourage the implementation of civil and political rights.  The ICCPR Reservation was therefore necessary to ensure that the UK would not be in contravention of its and Hong Kong’s international obligations in merely continuing its system of colonial governance; and

(d)       As a matter of conduct, the PRC did not amend or change the reservation in the Notification (which it would have been entitled to).

C.3     The Minimum Requirements for Universal Suffrage

19.      As stated above, Article 25(b) of the ICCPR protects only the minimum standards for the right to take part in free and fair elections.  Article 25(b) requires as a matter of law that elections are to be established in the following manner:

(1)       Elections ought to be free from discrimination against any status.  Status includes distinctions against race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status; and

(2)       Restrictions on elections shall be based only on objective and reasonable criteria.  Restrictions include any conditions for nomination, or registration, to stand in an election.  The right to stand for elections “should not be limited to members of parties or specific parties”. If there is a nomination procedure, this nomination “should be reasonable and not act as a barrier to candidacy.”[4] This applies to any restrictions against the entire process of any election, including the mechanism and process of nomination which ultimately determine who is entitled to take part in an election.

20.      It therefore follows that a restriction against those who stand in elections because of their political views may be unconstitutional.  Such restrictions must therefore be carefully examined to ensure that such a restriction does not unjustifiably impose an electoral disadvantage to a significant proportion of eligible voters and candidates.[5]

21.      Furthermore, Articles 25 and 26 of the Basic Law, which guarantee the fundamental right of equality before the law and that HKSAR permanent residents shall have the right to vote and the right to stand for election in accordance with law respectively, and Articles 45 and 68 of the Basic Law, which provide that both the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council may be elected by universal suffrage, should be read as guaranteeing those same minimum standards.

22.      For any election by universal suffrage in Hong Kong to comply with the constitutional requirements pursuant to Article 25 of the ICCPR, Articles 25, 26, 45 and 68 of the Basic Law and Article 21 of the HKBOR, the following principles must be adhered to:

(1)       The elections (at all stages including the nomination stage) should not discriminate in favour or against on the basis of political views and leanings;

(2)       The office holder must be “freely chosen” which not only requires the election method of “one person one vote”, but also the nomination method.  This requires:

(a)       A plurality of participation at the nomination stage and that all candidates have a fair and realistic chance of being nominated; and

(b)       The NC be broadly representative of the eligible electorate so as to avoid imposing false barriers to candidacy.

(3)       These principles apply to not only to the election method, i.e. “one person one vote”, but also the nomination method.

 

C.4     Universal suffrage of the Chief Executive

23.      Article 45 of the Basic Law provides:

“The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the Central People's Government.

The method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.

The specific method for selecting the Chief Executive is prescribed in Annex I 'Method for the Selection of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’.”

24.      The selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage under Article 45 of the Basic Law must be read together with Articles 2, 25 and 26 of the ICCPR and Articles 25 and 26 of the Basic Law. No universal suffrage can be realised unless the selection of the Chief Executive conforms in substance with all of those provisions. This means that:

(1)       There must not be any discriminatory or unreasonable restrictions to the right of HKSAR Permanent Residents to vote and be elected;

(2)       There must be a free choice of candidates by the electorates. There must be a number of candidates from different political backgrounds for the voters to choose; and

(3)       One person one vote - each of the votes casted by eligible voters must carry equal weight.

25.      As to the “actual situation” in Hong Kong:

(1)       The 8.31 Decision confirms as a matter of precedent fact that Hong Kong is ready for elections of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage;

(2)       We consider that, objectively speaking, Hong Kong has more suitable conditions and established institutions for a democratic system of government (i.e. where those in political office are elected by way of universal suffrage) than many countries that have made the transition to democracy in recent years.[6]   

26.      In short, universal suffrage will only be realised if the NC in its composition and operation conforms with the following principles:

(1)       Neither the composition of the NC nor the rules of nomination should, whether by design or otherwise, directly or indirectly have the effect of depriving any person of the right to stand for election on the ground of reason of his or her political or other opinion, or indeed on any other grounds referred to in Article 2 of the ICCPR.

(2)       The eligibility criteria to the office of the Chief Executive having been exhaustively set out in Article 44[7] of the Basic Law, no other eligibility criteria (such as “love the country, love Hong Kong”) should be imposed in the nomination process.

(3)       The nomination process must result in a plurality of candidates not only in a numerical sense but more importantly in a political sense, to enable the free expression of the voters' will.  In addition, the nomination process should not have the effect of determining the result of the Chief Executive election as the constitutional mandate of the NC is restricted to nomination and no more. Otherwise “one person one vote” that follows will just be a rubber stamping process of the NC's choice of candidates.  In this regard, we repeat the observations made above in relation to the ICCPR.

27.      It must be in this context that nomination by an NC that is “broadly representative” through “democratic procedures” is to be understood.

D.        Analysis of the Pre-Emptive Guidance stipulated in the 8.31 Decision

D.1     Freezing the Composition of the NC

 

28.      We question how the NC, when its composition and formation remain the same as those of the Election Committee for the Fourth Chief Executive, can be sufficiently “broadly represented” in the context of universal suffrage especially since the latter was constituted to reflect the principle of “balanced participation” and “meet interests of different sectors of society”[8] in the election of the Chief Executive at the time.

29.      “Broad representation” and “balanced participation” are two distinct principles.  Broad representation demands that the electoral franchise be as wide as possible.  Balanced participation requires that certain interest groups are accorded sufficient representation.  Both are not mutually exclusive. However in democratic systems where balanced participation is included in electoral considerations, broad representation within such balanced participation provides a check and balance against over-representation of special interest groups.[9]

30.      We therefore question how these two principles can be reconciled in the context of the HKSAR with the stipulation that the composition of the NC be frozen to the Election Committee for the Fourth Chief Executive.  Statistical analysis has shown that the current distribution of functional constituencies grossly deviate from the principle of broad representation.[10]  The freezing of the NC therefore imposes an unreasonable restriction in maintaining over-representation for certain sectors of society and under-representation in others.  To this end:

(1)       The entire NC should be elected on the basis of universal suffrage.

(2)       If the functional constituencies are to remain as part of the NC:

(a)       There should be a comprehensive reform of the constitution of the NC to reflect accurately Hong Kong’s society in 2015; and

(b)       The entire NC should be directly elected and all corporate and director voting should be abolished.  This will ensure consistency with the principle of broad representation.  There is no justification why a truck driver should not be able to vote for their NC representative in the transport sector or a bank manager for the financial sector.

(3)       Such measures will ensure that the electorate base is broadly represented while reflecting balanced participation.

D.2     Rules of nomination

 

31.      The Pre-Emptive Guidance stipulates that each candidate should be endorsed by more than half of the members of the NC.  We are of the view that this guidance is contrary to the Basic Law for the following reasons:

(1)       It breaches the minimum international standards for universal suffrage as guaranteed and protected by the Basic Law as it robs the electorate of a genuine choice of candidates and implements a nomination procedure that produces an undemocratic outcome;

(2)       It is regressive and fails to conform to the principle of “gradual and orderly progress” required under Article 45 of the Basic Law;

(3)       It pays little regard to the actual situation in Hong Kong.

32.      The rule requiring all candidates to secure nomination through a majority endorsement by the NC clearly violates the minimum international standards for universal suffrage and is unconstitutional.  The imposition of a 50% threshold allows the political bloc that holds the majority seats in the NC to pre-determine candidates:

(1)       The result is that while the general electorate can choose between different personalities, there is no genuine choice to choose between candidates of different political persuasion. This is so regardless of whether the NC is “broadly” representative of the whole electorate;

(2)       This exceeds the constitutional mandate of the NC and renders the election meaningless. Under such circumstances, we fail to see how voters can have a real choice of candidates from different political spectrums; and

(3)       A genuine choice is a choice made with access to alternatives. Without choice there will be no democracy, for without choice, majority rule or “one person one vote”, whatever form it takes, is no more than rubber-stamping.

33.      It is in this light that the “democratic procedures” by which the NC nominates candidates must be understood. “Democratic procedures” must by definition at least ensure a democratic outcome, i.e. ensuring the numerical and political plurality of the candidates, for it cannot be the intention of the Basic Law to implement a nomination procedure that produces an undemocratic outcome.

34.      Further, the direction that a candidate must be endorsed by a majority of the NC is regressive when compared to the method for selecting the Chief Executive in 2012 whereby a candidate was allowed to stand for election with the endorsement of 1/8 of the members of the Election Committee.  No (legitimate) justification for this regression has been provided.

35.      There also appears to be a lack of legitimate justification of the limit on the number of candidates.[11] We do not consider such a limit necessary or desirable either politically or legally.

36.      Moreover, we question the legal effect and basis of the “love the country, love Hong Kong” criteria. Such a criterion is vague and lacks legal certainty and should therefore be dispensed with. We fail to see any necessity or relevance of it save for being used as a pretext to screen candidates on the ground of political opinion or other opinion, which contravenes Articles 2 and 25 of the ICCPR and Articles 25 and 26 of the Basic Law.

37.      It would also seem that little regard was given to the “actual situation” in Hong Kong (see Article 45 of the Basic Law). The 8.31 Decision appears to be more restrictive and conservative than the most conservative of proposals put forward by political parties, organisations and individuals in Hong Kong. The dissatisfaction and disappointment with it is evidenced by the occupations, the largest in the history of Hong Kong, that followed.

38.      Thus, in essence, the nomination and election system as envisioned in the Pre-Emptive Guidance cannot be described as “universal suffrage” pursuant to Article 45 of the Basic Law.

E.        Comments on and responses to the 2nd Consultation Document

39.      To the specific matters on which views are sought in the 2nd Consultation Document, they can be responded to briefly as follows:

(1)       Regarding the formation and composition of the NC, please refer to paragraphs 28-30 above; 

(2)       Regarding the rules of nomination, please refer to paragraphs 31-38 above.  We further note that any apparent “lowering” of NC thresholds to select an individual as a Chief Executive “candidate” for consideration by the NC is meaningless for so long as the wider electorate is only able to “choose” from candidates that are subject to a 50% requirement as noted above; and

(3)       Given our views set out at paragraphs 28-38 above, we will not at this stage comment on the voting arrangement of the Chief Executive.

F.         Discussion of the “Blank Votes” proposal

40.      As regards the “Blank Votes” proposal (dubbed as the back-gate keeping option) put forward by Professor Albert Chen of the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law, our views are that:

(1)       The “Blank Votes” proposal does not render the system envisaged under the Pre–Emptive Guidance more or less democratic, nor does it implement universal suffrage as a method of selecting a Chief Executive.  Instead, it creates a new system of rejecting nominated candidates by universal suffrage (普拒).

 (2)       If the “Blank Votes” mechanism is triggered and an election declared invalid, the NC is not entitled under the Basic Law to nominate its choice of Chief Executive.  The NC unlike the Election Committee has no constitutional powers to do so and such a mechanism is not anticipated under the Basic Law.  This will require a further re-interpretation or amendment of the Basic Law to avoid a constitutional lacuna;

 (3)       In the absence of amending the Basic Law to allow the NC to nominate its Chief Executive, the “Blank Votes” mechanism will require new elections.  How such elections will take place, and indeed whether the NC should be dissolved, or whether the same candidates can stand, are all difficult issues.

 (4)       Such difficult issues are not insurmountable.  However, the political and economic cost of overcoming such difficult and contentious issues are not justified because as a solution, the “Blank Votes” mechanism provides only the right to veto without remedying the problem of a genuine choice of candidates.  This democratic defect renders the entire premise of universal suffrage otiose.  Universal suffrage empowers the electorate to be able to elect representatives and not merely to say no to particular persons.

G.      Constitutional Obligation to Restart Consultation Process

41.      Under “One Country Two Systems”, the NPCSC has the final authority to approve or not the amendments endorsed by the Legislative Council.  Further and pursuant to the Basic Law, the Legislative Council must endorse the draft Bill by at least a 2/3 super-majority.

42.      In the event of either a Legislative Council veto on the Government’s proposed amendments, or the NPCSC rejecting the method endorsed by Legislative Council, the Government is required as a matter of law (i.e. constitutionally obliged) to restart the consultation process on the method of selecting the Chief Executive.  This is because:

(1)       As a matter of precedent fact, the NPCSC has determined that there is a need for selecting the Chief Executive by way of universal suffrage for 2017 and after;

(2)       As a matter of law, Article 45 of the Basic Law provides a constitutional guarantee and protects the right to elect the Chief Executive by universal suffrage in accordance with the actual situation in Hong Kong (i.e. when “there is a need” is triggered).

43.      It therefore follows that any veto of any proposal by either the Legislative Council, or the NPCSC of an endorsed legislative proposal, obliges the Government to restart the 5 stage consultation process (政改五部曲).  Failure to do so amounts to a contravention of the Government’s constitutional obligations to both the NPCSC and the Basic Law.

 H.        Possibility of future change of Chief Executive election method

44.      The Government seeks to describe the implementation of political reform under the 8.31 Decision in 2017 as a “first step”, suggesting that there will be time and opportunity to make further changes to the election method.  We consider this as misleading in a number of ways:

(1)       In both the 8.31 Decision and the Explanations, it is explicitly stated that the provisions of the 8.31 Decision regarding the selection of the Chief Executive apply “starting from 2017”.

(2)       The constitutional and political reality is that the Government has surrendered control over any such change which may or may not be made and it is all in the hands of the CPG. We note that there has never been unequivocal representation or promises made by representatives and officials of the CPG of sufficient seniority and standing to the effect that the parameters of the 8.31 Decision may be changed in future, when they may be changed or what such change can possibly be.

(3)       This means that, if the Pre-Emptive Guidance are ultimately followed and any method for selecting the Chief Executive adopted pursuant to it is treated as if it were universal suffrage, then unless the NPCSC and/or the National People's Congress decides to amend or repeal the 8.31 Decision, such a system may continue to apply, possibly up to 2047.

45.      On this basis, if the 8.31 Decision is not amended or repealed in future, the “first step” may well be the final step in effect.  However, in circumstances where we consider that any system for selecting the Chief Executive under the 8.31 Decision’s framework is not universal suffrage, it follows that any attempt to treat the selection method under this framework as the final step is contrary to Article 45 of the Basic Law’s requirement of “gradual and orderly progress” towards universal suffrage.

46.      This conclusion applies similarly to views expressed recently by certain public figures that if the current proposals on the selection of the Chief Executive are voted down by legislators, there may be no further opportunity for change in 2022.  Given that the current system for selecting the Chief Executive (which would remain in place for 2017 if the current proposals for 2017 are voted down) is also not universal suffrage, any lack of proposals for change in the selection method for 2022 would also be contrary to Article 45 of the Basic Law.

 

Progressive Lawyers Group

27 January 2015

 


[1] Pursuant to its powers under Article 158 of the Basic Law.

[2]   The UK reserved for Hong Kong against the Article 25(b) of the ICCPR the positive duty to establish an elected Executive Council or Legislative Council in Hong Kong (theICCPR Reservation”).  The ICCPR Reservation is likewise reflected in Section 13 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, Cap. 383 (“HKBORO”).

[3]    HCMP 1696A of 1994 at para 31.

[4]    UNHRC General Comment No 25 (57) (CCPR/C.21/Rev.1/Add.7)

[5]        Secretary for Justice v Yau Yuk Lung Zigo & Anor (2007) 10 HKCFAR 335 at para 1; Fok Chun Wa & Anor v Hospital Authority (2011) 15 HKCFAR 409 at para 77.

[6]        See Chan, Johannes and Harris, Lison, “the Constitutional Journey: The Way forward” in Chan, Johannes and Harris, Lison (eds), Hong Kong's Constitutional Debates (n 2) pp 143 – 169.

[7]        Article 44 of the Basic Law states: “The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be a Chinese citizen of not less than 40 years of age who is a permanent resident of the Region with no right of abode in any foreign country and has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 20 years.”

[8]        See “Explanations on the Draft Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Issues Relating to the Selection of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by Universal Suffrage and on the Method for Forming the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the Year 2016” (“Explanations”), which states that “Past elections for the Chief Executive since the return of Hong Kong have proven that the Election Committee has covered representative figures from all sectors of the Hong Kong community and achieved balanced participation of all sectors....”

[9]    See Chan, Johannes and Harris, Lison, “The Constitutional Journey: The Way forward” in Chan, Johannes and Harris, Lison (eds), Hong Kong's Constitutional Debates (n 2) pp 143 – 169.

[10]   https://www.law.hku.hk/ccpl/Docs/CCPL-FinalSubmission-2012LegCoReforms.pdf

[11] In the Explanations, it is suggested firstly that limiting the number of candidates helps to avoid problems such as complicated electoral procedures and high election costs caused by having too many candidates. It is not set out how exactly this would be the case. Indeed, it simply does not follow for instance that a set of electoral procedures for an unlimited number of candidates would necessarily or logically be more complicated than one for a limited number. It is suggested secondly that since past elections for the Chief Executive were conducted with two or three candidates, it fits relatively well with experience to limit the candidates to this number. Again, it is difficult to see, why, as a matter of logic, the number of candidates should be limited to two or three (or why the number of candidates should be limited at all) just because there were two or three candidates in the past. Further, it should be borne in mind that the previous elections did not involve universal suffrage. Caution should particularly be exercised in using those elections as a frame of reference for an election involving a very different electoral model.

 

 

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