The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (Draft) Consultation Report/Volume 1/Section 1
I PRINCIPLES AND METHODS OF CONSULTATION
1. On 21 February 1989, the sixth session of the Standing Committee of the Seventh National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China examined and decided to publish the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Draft) (hereinafter referred to as the Basic Law (Draft)). It also announced that opinions on the Basic Law (Draft) would be extensively solicited in Hong Kong and other parts of the country. The Consultative Committee for the Basic Law (CCBL) was entrusted by the Drafting Committee for the Basic Law with the responsibility of launching a second round of comprehensive consultations on the Basic Law (Draft) in Hong Kong. (The first round of comprehensive consultations was launched between May and September 1988 on the Draft Basic Law for Solicitation of Opinions.)
Principles of Consultation
2. In order to carry out consultation on the Basic Law (Draft) effectively, the special groups of our Committee held meetings from 13 to 17 February to discuss the consultation on the Basic Law (Draft). A large number of opinions and suggestions were put forward on such issues as the scope of this consultation exercise, promotion activities, ways of collecting opinions, efforts to reach a compromise political model, the strengthening of the exchange of views between the drafters and CCBL members, the way in which the special groups should organize their discussions, and the way to bring the role of CCBL members into play. These views and suggestions were subsequently studied and summarized into five principles by the Executive Committee:
( 1 ) Comprehensive promotion; consultation with emphasis on special issues;
( 2 ) Taking the initiative, adopting an active approach, and ensuring that the consultations will have concrete results;
( 3 ) Taking last year's experience as reference but at the same time taking account of the characteristics and nature of this round of consultations
( 4 ) Emphasis on exchanging views with and canvassing support from the drafters; and
( 5 ) Consultation should go hand in hand with compromise.
3. A delegation comprising ten Executive Committee members went to Beijing in mid-March to brief the Drafting Committee on the CCBL's plan for this consultation exercise and had a meaningful dialogue with the drafters on ways to coordinate the efforts of the CCBL and the Drafting Committee in this round of consultations.
4. The whole consultation exercise was launched in accordance with the principle of "promotion before consultation". During the first two months after the Draft was published, the key tasks were to distribute the Draft and publicize the Basic Law. The organization of discussions and collection of opinions began at a later stage.
Period of Consultation
5. According to the announcement made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the consultation period would last from the date of publication to the end of July. The CCBL would finish the collection of opinions on 30 June and compile those opinions received before that date by the CCBL into a consultation report to be forwarded to the Drafting Committee for reference.
6. Since the Hong Kong public reacted strongly to the events that took place on mainland China in May and June, the Basic Law-related consultative activities in Hong Kong were affected. On 7 June, the CCBL decided to suspend consultation on the Basic Law. The Secretariat, however, continued to collect and process opinions.
7. On 10 July, the Chairman, Vice Chairmen and Secretary-General of the CCBL went to Beijing at the invitation of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee Ji Pengfei, to discuss how further consultations on the Basic Law (Draft) were to be carried out in Hong Kong. At the meeting, Mr Ji reiterated that the policies of the Chinese Government regarding Hong Kong would remain unchanged, and that they would propose to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress that the consultation period for the Basic Law (Draft) in Hong Kong be duly extended, whereas the date for submitting the Basic Law to the National People's Congress for examination and endorsement would not be changed.
8. On 20 July, the Executive Committee of the CCBL held a meeting to discuss the conditions prevailing at the time. It was held that the Hong Kong public had revived their interest in the drafting of the Basic Law, and realized the importance of the Basic Law to the future development of Hong Kong. It was therefore decided that consultations were to be fully resumed as from that date. Meanwhile, the CCBL was informed by the Drafting Committee that the consultation period for the Basic Law (Draft) was extended to the end of October upon the approval of the chairmen's meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, and the CCBL was asked to submit the consultation report before the end of November.
9. After the consultation exercise had fully resumed, the six special groups of the CCBL and their coordinating groups held a series of meetings to discuss their future work. Existing problems were also raised for the reference of Executive Committee members when revising their work plan.
10. Soon after the visit of the CCBL Chairman, Vice Chairmen and Secretary-General to Beijing on 10 July, a delegation comprising nine Executive Committee members went to Beijing on 16 and 17 August to discuss with representatives of the Drafting Committee the coordination between the two committees, including such issues as whether the promulgation of the Basic Law should be postponed, visits of mainland drafters to Hong Kong, delegations of CCBL members and members of various sectors to Beijing, key issues for consultation, and the future arrangement for submitting the consultation report. The Executive Committee members also conveyed to the parties concerned the anxiety of people in Hong Kong about the future of Hong Kong after the Beijing incident.
11. With respect to the above-mentioned issues, members of the Executive Committee delegation not only stated their own views, but also conveyed different views of other CCBL members and the public opinion. On the proposed postponement of the promulgation of the Basic Law. the representatives of the Drafting Committee seriously considered the various possibilities, including the possibility of empowering the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress to examine and promulgate the Basic Law on behalf of the National People's Congress, and the specific difficulties in calling an extraordinary session of the National People's Congress. The Drafting Committee reached the following conclusion: Provided that the Drafting Committee and the CCBL work closely together and the meetings of the Drafting Committee be rescheduled, the consultation exercise would not be affected.
Ways of Collecting Opinions
12. During the consultation period, promotional trailers of the CCBL were broadcast regularly on television and radio, and advertisements were placed on major newspapers to invite the public to voice their views on the Basic Law (Draft). A form was provided in the Basic Law (Draft) Made Simple published by the Secretariat so that members of the public could put down their opinions. In addition, local media coverage and commentaries as well as the views of the public expressed through the mass media also constituted a major source of opinions.
13. Before the consultation exercise was launched, the special groups of the CCBL held meetings to discuss consultation on the Draft. At these meetings, some members proposed that the CCBL should conduct a public opinion poll or referendum to gauge the opinions of people in Hong Kong on the Basic Law (Draft) or on some of the controversial issues in the Draft such as political structure. However, there was no unanimous view. Members of the public also put forward quite a number of suggestions regarding this issue. The Executive Committee of the CCBL therefore held four meetings to discuss the issue which was also put on the agenda for the seventh general meeting of the CCBL. Finally, the Executive Committee voted on the issue. It was decided that the CCBL would not conduct a public opinion poll on the Basic Law (Draft). For the development of the CCBL's discussion on this issue and the different opinions arising from the discussion, as well as the technical and operational problems involved in a public opinion poll, please refer to Annex I to this report: Issues Relating to Public Opinion Polls.
14. Although the CCBL decided that it would not conduct a public opinion poll on the Basic Law (Draft), it has stated time and again that other organizations and individuals are welcome to conduct public opinion polls and submit their results to the CCBL, and such results will be forwarded to the Drafting Committee for consideration. (For the way in which CCBL handles results of opinion polls submitted by outside parties, please refer to the Part IV of this report.)
Principles and Methods of Processing Opinions
15. To ensure that the various opinions collected could be accurately relayed to the Drafting Committee, the opinions were processed in accordance with the following principles and methods:
15.1 Only opinions and proposals which are on the contents of the Basic Law (Draft) or on relevant issues and which are received within the period from the publication of the Basic Law (Draft) to 31 October 1989 shall be processed.
15.2 All senders of submissions must provide the following details:
( 1 ) Name
( 2 ) Correspondence address and telephone number
( 3 ) I.D. card number
( 4 ) Age
( 5 ) If the sender is an organization or a community body, the details of the organization and the personal data of the person in charge or the liaison person shall be required.
15.3 With regard to the submissions carrying the address of the sender, acknowledgements shall, as far as possible, be issued within one week from receipt of the submissions. Those with inadequate personal data shall be asked to provide further details.
15.4 If the sender is an organization or a community body, it shall be asked to provide details concerning the size of its membership, its functions and objectives, the procedure of preparing the submission, etc.
15.5 Organizers or organizing bodies of public opinion polls shall be asked to provide their personal data or details of the organizations and the methods of survey.
15.6 If the CCBL learns from the media that a seminar or a public opinion poll on the Basic Law was held by a certain organization but has not received any relevant document, the CCBL shall write to the organization to ask for relevant information. The information thus received shall duly replace the media coverage of the seminar or poll.
15.7 The CCBL reserves the right not to process submissions which do not provide the details listed under 15.2 or which are totally irrelevant to the Basic Law (Draft). In the event of disagreement, the decision of the Executive Committee shall prevail.
15.8 The following submissions shall not be processed:
( 1 ) Anonymous and repeated submissions;
( 2 ) Submissions from government departments;
( 3 ) Submissions from members of the Drafting Committee in their individual capacities; and
( 4 ) Submissions from individuals or organizations on the mainland.
15.9 The CCBL shall return any submissions from government departments. Since the CCBL is a non-governmental organization, it is not in a position to process submissions from government departments. If a government or any of its subordinate bodies would like to submit opinion on the affairs of another government, it may do so through normal diplomatic channels. The CCBL welcomes members of the civil service, as well as of Councils and Boards at all levels to offer their opinions and suggestions in their individual capacities.
15.10 Submissions which require to be kept in confidence shall be processed separately and in strict confidence. All submissions shall be destroyed immediately after the consultation period.