The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (Draft) Consultation Report/Volume 1/Section 3
III DISCUSSIONS AND CONSULTATIONS
1. Following last year's first round of comprehensive consultations, the Drafting Committee for the Basic Law made many amendments to the Draft Basic Law for Solicitation of Opinions. Members of the public were relatively satisfied with the majority of the contents of Basic Law (Draft), the revised draft. This round of consultations therefore focused on certain key issues to resolve those issues which were still being debated and remained controversial, such as the political structure, the relationship between the Central Authorities and the HKSAR, and the policy provisions. Meanwhile, members of the public were welcome to put forward opinions and amendment proposals on other articles.
Internal Consultative Activities
2. Since this round of consultations was on certain key issues, the collection of opinions was not divided, by topics, into stages. Instead, the special groups of the CCBL decided their own key issues for consultation and their own schedules. During this consultation period, the six special groups called a total of 23 meetings. The results of their discussions were processed and compiled by the Secretariat into the "Collections of Views of the Special Groups of the Consultative Committee for the Basic Law Regarding the Basic Law (Draft)" which was adopted by the special groups and then examined by the Executive Committee and subsequently forwarded to the Drafting Committee for reference.
3. Although the consultation exercise was once suspended as a result of the Beijing incident, after the CCBL had fully resumed consultation, the internal meetings of the special groups basically returned to normal. The work of the special groups on political structure and on the relationship between the Central Government and the HKSAR was affected to a greater extent because after the incident, some CCBL members and outside parties considered it necessary to review in detail the provisions on these two subjects, and more discussions were therefore conducted.
4. Apart from special group discussions, the Secretariat also organized a series of seminars or discussion sessions open to the public and invited experts to explore from different angles the following subjects of public concern:
|( 1 ) The relationship between the executive authorities & the legislature (exclusively for members)||18 March|
|( 2 ) Labour-management relations & collective bargaining||8 April|
|( 3 ) Constitutional economics||15 April|
|( 4 ) Civil servants and politics||29 April|
|( 5 ) Electoral law||13 May|
|( 6 ) Non-intervention under the policy of "one country, two systems"||5 August|
|( 7 ) National security law||12 August|
|( 8 ) Retirement security||2 September|
|( 9 ) The pace of development of the political structure||9 September|
The response of the public to these activities was very good, especially to subjects which involve the political structure or the relationship between the Central Authorities and the HKSAR. A total of 980 participant-counts was recorded. The results of these discussions were also extensively covered by the media.
Printing and Compilation of Discussion and Reference Papers
5. During this consultation period, the CCBL published two discussion papers and one reference paper to summarize the discussions on individual issues, thus helping the public understand and further express their opinions on these issues:
( 1 ) Relationship Between the Executive Authorities and the Legislature
( 2 ) Collective Bargaining
( 3 ) An Outline of the Political Models
Apart from being distributed among the di-afters and CCBL members, these discussion and reference papers were also given out to the public free of charge. A total of 5,600 copies of these papers, 4,000 copies in Chinese and 1,600 copies in English, were given out by the Secretariat.
Invitation to Mainland Drafters for Exchange of Views in Hong Kong
6. Exchange of opinions with visiting mainland drafters is an important aspect of this consultation exercise. The first delegation of mainland drafters led by Mr Wang Hanbin, Vice Chairman of the Drafting Committee, together with experts and staff of the Secretariat of the Drafting Committee (totalling 14 people) visited Hong Kong from 20 April to 3 May, Along with their Hong Kong counterparts, the mainland drafters attended five exchange sessions with the special groups of the CCBL, and received the preliminary views of individuals and organizations in Hong Kong on the Basic Law (Draft). They also responded to and elaborated on certain questions. One special feature of this visit is that they joined many activities organized by other bodies, such as visiting community bodies and local districts and attending seminars on invitation. In this way they could reach out to different strata of the community and solicit their opinions. The first delegation of mainland drafters attended more than 30 exchange sessions (with a total of over 800 participant-counts) during their stay in Hong Kong.
7. Three delegations of mainland drafters were originally scheduled to visit Hong Kong during this consultation period. However, the activities of the other two delegations originally scheduled for late May and late June were all cancelled. The Executive Committee understood the urgent request of CCBL members and members of various sectors in Hong Kong for direct dialogues with mainland drafters. Especially after the Beijing incident, these people were all the more concerned about their future and hoped that the mainland drafters would come to Hong Kong to share their anxiety. After the consultations had fully resumed and during their visit to Beijing in mid-August, the Executive Committee members relayed time and again the above-mentioned concerns to the Drafting Committee and reiterated that the invitation to mainland drafters to visit Hong Kong remained valid. However, the mainland drafters maintained that the exchange of opinions on the Basic Law (Draft) had to be conducted on the bases of mutual respect and mutual trust. Since these conditions did not exist then, no more visits were paid to Hong Kong.
Exchange Sessions in Guangzhou
8. Although the Drafting Committee did not dispatch further delegations to Hong Kong during the consultation period, it welcomed the proposal that CCBL members should go to Guangzhou in late November to exchange opinions with its various subgroups and to brief them on the consultation report compiled by the CCBL. In the signing-up for the five exchange sessions with the subgroups held on 21 and 22 November in Guangzhou, a total of 81 participant-counts was recorded.
9. An international symposium entitled "One Country, Two Systems and the Basic Law" was initially scheduled as part of the programme for this round of consultations. Academics were to be invited to explore from the political, legal and economic points of view the policy of "one country, two systems" put forward by China as well as issues concerning the drafting of the Basic Law. The Executive Committee of the CCBL set up a four-member committee to take charge of the preparatory work. As little time was left after the suspension of consultation in June and July, the symposium had to be cancelled.
10. In addition to the seminars and discussion sessions organized by the CCBL, organizations of various sectors also held different Basic Law-related promotional and consultative activities in accordance with their own characteristics and needs. These activities included exhibitions, lectures, discussions, forums, study camps, luncheon meetings and public opinion polls. The special topics introduced and discussed focus on the political structure, especially the political models. The CCBL provided, as far as possible, all kinds of assistance in these activities, such as liaising with speakers, providing copies of the Basic Law (Draft) and reference materials, so that the consultation exercise could reach every district and every stratum of the community.