Resolving problems at root: improving HKSAR's electoral system without further ado
Contributing to Hong Kong's progress: long-term prosperity and stability must not be impaired
7 March 2021
With comprehensive implementation of the fundamental principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, national sovereignty, security and development interests can be safeguarded, the Central Authorities' overall jurisdiction over the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) effectively implemented, and the constitutional order as set out in the Constitution and the Basic Law safeguarded. The principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” is the very foundation to ensure the steadfast and successful implementation of “One Country, Two Systems”, which is beneficial to the long-term stability and safety of Hong Kong, and conducive to resolving various deep-seated problems besetting the city.
“Patriots administering Hong Kong” as a matter of course
The principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” is not only the linchpin of the faithful implementation of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, but also a key to its success. The criteria for a patriot are to respect one's own nation, sincerely support the resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong by the Motherland, and not to impair Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. Under this constitutional order and political system, it is a natural and essential requirement that Hong Kong must be governed by patriots. In addition to the Chief Executive and officials in the Administration, “persons administering Hong Kong” include members of the legislature, judges in the Judiciary, members of district organisations which are not organs of political power, i.e. District Councils, as well as civil servants.
Improving the electoral system without further ado
To put the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” into practice, we must improve the electoral system without further ado. The draft Decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR (the draft Decision) will be deliberated at the fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) which opened in Beijing last Friday (March 5). The HKSAR Government fully respects that the Central Government takes the lead to improve the political system and will render its full co-operation.
National Security Law serving as “pillar of the ocean”
In the second half of 2019, the economy of Hong Kong and the livelihood of its people were severely hit by a string of violent incidents arising from the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. Opposition forces and organisations advocating “Hong Kong independence” and “self-determination” blatantly challenged the authority of the Central Government and the HKSAR Government, pleaded for interference in Hong Kong's affairs by external forces and even sanctions against Hong Kong. Foreign governments and legislatures have intensified their interference in Hong Kong's affairs which are squarely China's internal affairs, severely jeopardising our nation's security. By plugging the gaping hole in national security since the reunification, the National Security Law passed by the NPC on June 30, 2020 has improved the “One Country, Two Systems” regime and served as the “pillar of the ocean” underpinning the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and expediting its recovery and revival.
As we may all recall, the House Committee of the Legislative Council (LegCo) failed to elect its Chairman and Deputy Chairman despite numerous meetings since October 2019, which stalled and paralysed the operation of the Committee for months. Being an indispensable organ of the LegCo, the House Committee has to exercise its constitutional functions, make preparations for Council meetings, and consider matters relating to Council business including overseeing the processing of bills presented to the Council. The filibustering by LegCo Members from opposition parties has brought the House Committee to a standstill and impeded the Government's implementation of policies. They tried to accomplish their political purposes by hook or by crook, even at the expense of the well-being of all Hong Kong people. To have Hong Kong administered by patriots, including those in the capacity of LegCo Members, will put these bickering and internal conflicts to an end. By the same token, the LegCo can home in on concrete measures to improve people's livelihood and foster economic development. Hong Kong will then be able to move further ahead with a more solid foundation laid for the fuller, faster and better implementation of “One Country, Two Systems”.
Timely suppressing opposition to Central Authorities and disturbance to law and order of Hong Kong
The social chaos which emerged in recent years have accentuated the loopholes and deficiencies of Hong Kong's electoral system. Hong Kong is at a critical juncture in restoring order from chaos right now. It is of paramount importance to timely suppress parties which oppose the Central Authorities and cause disturbance to the law and order of Hong Kong from entering the political system of the HKSAR through elections. With the Central Authorities taking the lead to improve the electoral system of the HKSAR and implement the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong, these simmering risks and loopholes can be eliminated and the HKSAR Government can administer Hong Kong according to law and implement its policies effectively. All these carry profound and far-reaching implications in moving Hong Kong's political system forward along the right track under the principles of “One Country, Two Systems”, “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and “a high degree of autonomy”.
Reasonable and lawful to have problems resolved by the Central Authorities
Matters concerning the political system of the HKSAR are the prerogative of the Central Government. It is reasonable, lawful and beyond dispute that the Central Government has the authority and responsibility to improve the electoral system in Hong Kong. The HKSAR Government supports the five fundamental principles enunciated by Vice Chairman WANG Chen of the NPC Standing Committee on the draft Decision, namely to fully and faithfully implement the principles of “One Country, Two Systems”, “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and “a high degree of autonomy”; firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests; uphold that Hong Kong be administered in strict accordance with the law; accord with the actual situation in Hong Kong; and enhance the governance capability of the HKSAR.
The Central Government has once again spared no efforts in resolving the imminent problems faced by Hong Kong at the national level. The significant move of improving the electoral system of the HKSAR has fully demonstrated the Central Government's steely determination in safeguarding national security, strict adherence to the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”, as well as deep concern about the overall interests of Hong Kong and the well-being of Hong Kong citizens as a whole.
Full co-operation of HKSAR Government
Premised on the public's aspiration for lasting peace, prosperity and stability, the implementation of the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” is the very prerequisite and the minimum requirement for Hong Kong to move out of the impasse and start anew. The HKSAR Government will, under the leadership of the Chief Executive, render full support and exert itself to co-operate with the Central Authorities by enacting local legislation to implement the improvement measures. We will, as entrusted by the Central Government, faithfully put the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” into practice and fulfil the mission of safeguarding the fundamental interests of the country and the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. Backed by the staunch support of the Central Government, the HKSAR Government will work in concert with different sectors in building a harmonious and stable society and propelling Hong Kong ahead. In this opening year of the country's 14th Five-Year Plan, Hong Kong will vigorously integrate into the overall national development through active participation in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and harness the wealth of unprecedented opportunities arising at this point in history.
Ensuring safety and transparency of vaccines
Given the tight supply of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, the Government has striven to provide vaccines that are in compliance with the safety, efficacy and quality requirements, and to arrange for the public to get vaccinated in phases after obtaining emergency use approval in accordance with the relevant requirements as well as stringent approval procedures under related regulation.
Last Tuesday (March 6), the Department of Health (DH) received a report from the Hospital Authority (HA) regarding a suspected serious adverse event following COVID-19 vaccination. In accordance with an established mechanism, the HA passed the case to the Expert Committee on Clinical Events Assessment Following COVID-19 Immunisation (Expert Committee) for conducting causality assessment. The Expert Committee preliminarily considered that the event and the vaccination did not have direct causal association. Regarding another report on a suspected serious adverse event following COVID-19 vaccination received by the DH yesterday (March 6), the Expert Committee will meet to conduct causality assessment tomorrow (March 8).
It is understandable that some people may feel worried about these incidents. However, the issue of vaccination safety should be judged from a scientific point of view. We trust the advice of the experts and appeal to the public to ease their worries. Committed to the principles of openness, transparency and accountability, the Government will regularly disseminate and update vaccine-related information while ensuring proper administration and surveillance of the vaccination to address the concerns of the community, so as to safeguard public health and put people's mind at ease.
Vaccination programme rolled out in phases at more venues with more vaccine supply
The Government's COVID-19 Vaccination Programme was rolled out in a swift, safe and orderly manner. I am grateful for the public's support in receiving the vaccination. Since February 22 and up to the evening of March 6, a cumulative total of about 83 400 people had received their first dose of the Sinovac vaccine. About 300 people received their first dose of the BioNTech vaccine yesterday. Starting from last week, private doctors participating in the vaccination programme have been administering the Sinovac vaccine to the public free of charge. Members of the public may contact the clinics of these private doctors directly without the need for online booking. The Government has procured a total of 22.5 million doses of vaccines developed from three different technology platforms, which would be sufficient for the phased vaccination of all Hong Kong people. The Government will improve the vaccination arrangements having regard for the supply of vaccines and the actual operational situation.
“LeaveHomeSafe” App a useful alert as infection clusters emerged at catering premises
Leveraging technology in the COVID-19 battle, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer works closely with the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) and enhances the “LeaveHomeSafe” App continually. The app was originally designed to notify users who had visited the same venue of a confirmed case at around the same time. As the number of confirmed cases in the K11 Musea cluster keeps climbing up, the Government has, in support of the CHP's anti-epidemic work, immediately expanded the coverage of notifications of the “LeaveHomeSafe” App in relation to the relevant venues in K11 Musea for users' download. Members of the public who had visited any of the 200 or so venues in K11 Musea and scanned the “LeaveHomeSafe” QR codes on February 19 to 26 will receive exposure notifications.
Persons who have received exposure notifications (either relating to K11 Musea cases or other cases) via the “LeaveHomeSafe” App can make appointments online for free testing at any community testing centre by showing the notifications on their mobile phones. They are strongly advised to undergo testing as soon as possible.
Stepping up anti-epidemic measures with inspections and stringent enforcement actions
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has been stepping up inspections and taking stringent enforcement action against offenders to ensure compliance with the relevant requirements. During the period from February 18 to March 2 , the FEHD conducted over 13 900 inspections at catering premises and instituted 13 prosecutions against the operators for suspected violations of the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation (Cap. 599F) (the Regulation). Owing to non-compliance with certain requirements or restrictions1, the operators were also required to cease dine-in services from 6:00 pm to 4:59 am of the subsequent day and allow no more than two persons to be seated together at one table when the premises were in operation, for a period of three or seven days in order to reduce the risk of transmission within the premises.
During the same period, the FEHD also instituted prosecution against the operator of a place of public entertainment (PPE) for suspected violation of the Regulation. The premises concerned was also required to be closed for 14 days to reduce the risk of transmission because the operator had failed to display the “LeaveHomeSafe” venue QR code and conduct body temperature screening on persons entering the premises. Law enforcement officers subsequently instituted four more prosecutions against the PPE operator as the premises was found open during the said period.
I appeal to all operators of catering business and scheduled premises to abide by the relevant regulations and not to break the law. Members of the public should exercise self-discipline and be co-operative by following the regulations and directions on group gatherings and mask wearing at catering premises.
During the period from March 4 to 17 when the directions are in force, catering business operators are required to arrange dedicated staff for cleaning-up duties wherever possible. If it is not feasible to do so, the staff carrying out cleaning-up duties must take hand hygiene measures before switching to other duties.
1 Respectively relating to mask wearing, distance or partition between tables, or maximum seating capacity for each table.