Background on Constitutional Development and Consultation on Constitutional Reform

1. What is the basis of constitutional development in Hong Kong?
The Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR) is a local administrative region of the People's Republic of China. The constitutional basis of the establishment of HKSAR and the systems practised in the Region, including the political structure, is the State's Constitution and the Basic Law.

The Basic Law is the constitutional document of the HKSAR. It enshrines within a legal document the important concepts of "One Country, Two Systems", and "Hong Kong People administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy. It also prescribes the various systems to be practised in the HKSAR. As such, we must promote the constitutional development of Hong Kong based on the relevant Interpretation and Decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) and the Basic Law, which form our constitutional basis.
2. Do we have a timetable for universal suffrage?
The Basic Law has already prescribed the ultimate aim of selecting the Chief Executive (CE) and all members of the Legislative Council (LegCo) by universal suffrage. In its Decision in 2014, the NPCSC has formally determined that universal suffrage for the CE election through "one person, one vote" could be implemented starting from 2017. After the CE is elected by universal suffrage, all members of the LegCo may also be elected by universal suffrage.
3. What procedures must be followed in amending the methods for the selection of the CE and for the formation of the LegCo? What is the "5-Step Process of Constitutional Development"?
In accordance with the Basic Law and the Interpretation of the NPCSC in 2004, the procedures for amending the methods for the selection of the CE and for the formation of the LegCo (also known as "5-Step Process of Constitutional Development") are as follows:
  1. The CE to make a report to the NPCSC as to whether there is a need to amend the two electoral methods,
  2. a determination to be made by the NPCSC as to whether the electoral methods need to be amended,
  3. the resolutions on the amendments to be introduced by the HKSAR, Government to the LegCo, and be endorsed by a two-thirds majority of all the members of the LegCo,
  4. consent to be given by the CE to the motions endorsed by the LegCo, and
  5. the relevant bill to be reported by the CE to the NPCSC for approval or for the record.
4. What consequences will we face if we fail to obtain a two-thirds majority support from all Members of the LegCo on the resolution to amend Annex I to the Basic Law?
If we fail to obtain a two-thirds majority support from all Members of the LegCo on the resolution to amend Annex I to the Basic Law, the method used for selecting the CE of the previous term will be used as the method for the selection of the Chief Executive of the next term.
5. What progress has been made in the constitutional development of Hong Kong in the recent years?
Significant progress has been made in the constitutional development of Hong Kong in recent years. Please click here to visit "Milestones in Constitutional Development - Chronology".
6. What does the Government plan to do next?
The work of the current term HKSAR Government in taking forward constitutional development has come to an end. The HKSAR Government hopes that different sectors of the community could enhance communication and rebuild mutual trust, so as to work together on various economic development and livelihood issues.

Chief Executive Election

7. Which major provisions in the Basic Law are related to the method for selecting the CE?
Under the Basic Law, Article 45 and Annex I to the Basic Law are the major specific provisions related to the method for selecting the CE. When handling the relevant issues, we also have to follow the Interpretation of the NPCSC in 2004, the Decision of the NPCSC in 2004, the Decision of the NPCSC in 2007 and the Decision of the NPCSC in 2014.
8. What are the major powers and functions of the CE?
The CE shall be the head of the HKSAR and shall represent the HKSAR. The CE shall be accountable to the Central People's Government (CPG) and the HKSAR in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law. The major powers and functions of the CE include: to lead the government of the Region; to implement the Basic Law, to nominate and report to the CPG for the appointment of principal officials; to sign bills passed by the LegCo and promulgate laws; and to approve the introduction of motions regarding revenues or expenditure to the LegCo, etc.
9. What is the current method for the selection of the CE?
At present, candidates interested to run for the office of CE may be nominated by not less than 150 members of the Election Committee to become a candidate for the CE. Each member may nominate only one candidate. Then the Election Committee shall, on the basis of the list of nominees, elect the CE elect by secret ballot on a "one-person-one-vote" basis. The CE elect shall become the CE after being appointed by the CPG.
10. What is the composition of the Election Committee?
The Election Committee is composed of 1 200 members from the following sectors:
  • Industrial, commercial and financial sectors (300 members)
  • The professions (300 members)
  • Labour, social services, religious and other sectors (300 members)
  • Members of the LegCo, representatives of members of the District Councils, representatives of the Heung Yee Kuk, Hong Kong deputies to the NPC, representatives of Hong Kong members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (300 members)
11. Will it be possible for us to select the CE by universal suffrage on a "one person, one vote" basis in 2017?
According to the Decision of the NPCSC in 2014, if the motion moved by the HKSAR Government to amend Annex I to the Basic Law concerning the method for the selection of the CE could not obtain endorsement by a two-thirds majority of all Members of the LegCo, the method for selecting the 4th term CE in 2012 will continue to be adopted to select the 5th term CE in 2017, i.e., the CE is to be elected by a 1 200-member Election Committee.
12. What is the nominating committee?
According to Article 45 of the Basic Law, the method for selecting the CE shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the HKSAR and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the CE by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.

In addition, the NPCSC stipulated in its Decision in 2014 that the provisions for the number of members, composition and formation method of the nominating committee shall be made in accordance with the number of members, composition and formation method of the Election Committee for the Fourth Chief Executive. The nominating committee shall nominate two to three candidates for the office of Chief Executive in accordance with democratic procedures. Each candidate must have the endorsement of more than half of all the members of the nominating committee. The Chief Executive-elect, after being selected through universal suffrage by all eligible electors of Hong Kong, will have to be appointed by the CPG.
13. The candidate returned in the CE Election shall be appointed by the CPG. Is this just ceremonial?
According to Article 45 of the Basic Law, the CE shall be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the CPG. The CPG possesses the substantive power of appointment and the procedures for appointment are not merely ceremonial.
14. What are the basic requirements for the CE?
According to Article 44 of the Basic Law, the CE 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.
15. Can the CE be politically-affiliated?
There is no explicit provision in the Basic Law on whether the CE may belong to a political party. The CE Election Ordinance (Cap. 569) allows a political party member to run for the CE Election. However, within 7 working days after he is declared elected, he has to publicly make a statutory declaration to the effect that he is not a member of any political party. In addition, the elected person has to lodge with the Returning Officer a written undertaking to the effect that he will not, if appointed as the CE, become a member of any political party, or do any act that has the effect of subjecting himself to the discipline of any political party, during his term of office as the CE.

Legislative Council Election

16. Which major provisions of the Basic Law are related to the method for the formation of the Legislative Council?
Under the Basic Law, Article 68 and Annex II to the Basic Law are the major specific provisions related to the method for the formation of the Legislative Council. When handling the relevant issues, we also have to follow the Interpretation of the NPCSC in 2004, the Decision of the NPCSC in 2004, the Decision of the NPCSC in 2007 and the Decision of the NPCSC in 2014.
17. What are the main functions and powers of the Legislative Council?
The Legislative Council is the legislature of Hong Kong. Its main functions and powers include enacting, amending and repealing laws in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law and statutory procedures, examining and approving budgets introduced by the Government, approving taxation and public expenditure and raising questions on the work of the Government.
18. What is the current composition and method of formation of the Legislative Council? What are the procedures for voting on bills and motions in the Legislative Council?
Currently, the Legislative Council has 70 Members, with 35 Members returned by functional constituencies, and 35 Members by geographical constituencies through direct elections.

With regard to the procedures for voting on bills and motions in the LegCo, in general, the passage of bills introduced by the Government shall require a simple majority vote of the Members of the LegCo present. The passage of motions, bills or amendments to government bills introduced by individual Members of the LegCo shall require a simple majority vote of each of the two groups of Members present: Members returned by functional constituencies and those returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections.
19. What are the basic criteria for becoming a Legislative Council Member?
According to Articles 67 and 71 of the Basic Law, Members of the Legislative Council shall be composed of Chinese citizens who are permanent residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region with no right of abode in any foreign country. However, permanent residents of the Region who are not of Chinese nationality or who have the right of abode in foreign countries may also be elected Members of the LegCo of the Region, provided that the proportion of such Members does not exceed 20 percent of the total membership of the Council.

The President of the LegCo (elected from among the Members of the Legislative Council) 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.
20. What is meant by "one-person, two-votes" in the Legislative Council election? What are the "super District Council seats"?
Currently, the 35 Legislative Council Members returned by functional constituencies comprise of 30 Members from 28 traditional functional constituencies. The other 5 Members are returned by the District Council (second) functional constituency (also known as the "super District Council seats"). The District Council (second) functional constituency is a single constituency covering the whole territory and candidates consist of elected District Council members.

Each elector will have one vote for the geographical constituency and one vote for the functional constituency. All geographical constituency electors who are not registered in the 28 traditional functional constituencies are automatically registered in the District Council (second) functional constituency, unless they elect not to be so registered. Therefore, in general, electors could cast two votes in the LegCo election. This arrangement is also known as "one-person, two-votes".