英文

Editorial : Paradigm shift in HK politics

【明報專訊】The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) has given the nod to the amendments to Annex I and Annex II of the Basic Law. The "4:3:2" plan (40 seats from the Election Committee, 30 from functional constituencies and 20 from geographical constituencies) has finally been adopted for Legislative Council elections. The number of directly elected seats will be greatly reduced, while the power of the Election Committee will significantly expand. Furthermore, the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee (CERC), a gatekeeper, will work closely with the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR (NSC) and the police's National Security Department (NSD).

The amendments to Annexes I and II of the Basic Law by the NPCSC are obviously on the strict side. From the markedly reduced number of LegCo's direct election seats, to the relatively high nomination threshold, to the significantly increased difficulty for pan-democrats to obtain seats, there are national elements in many aspects of the new system.

Under the new system, the Election Committee will surely assume greater power. The newly added fifth sector, comprising Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC), Hong Kong members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and Hong Kong representatives of national organisations, certainly manifests the national aspect to the new system. As for professional sectors, such as the accountancy and legal sectors, some Election Committee members will also be nominated by national organisations. To run for a LegCo seat in the future, one must obtain at least two nominations from each of the five sectors of the Election Committee. Such a threshold is certainly higher than 10 sector-blind nominations. Will traditional democrats be willing to solicit support from the NPC and CPPCC for entry nominations? That is a big unknown.

All Election Committee members must be permanent residents of Hong Kong. However, the national dimension to the whole Election Committee will be more visible than before. A new office of Chief Convener will be set up under the Election Committee. It will be held by a member who occupies a leading national position. This is to ensure that at critical moments someone will lead and coordinate by taking into account the overall interests of the country. In addition, members of the CERC are also HKSAR principal officials. If there are doubts about the qualifications of a candidate, they will be vetted by the NSD and evaluated by the NSC. If they are deemed ineligible, the NSC will submit its opinions to the CERC, which will then give the final verdict. However, the NSC seems to play a more crucial role. It has an advisor appointed by the central government, which means that the central government, when necessary, can express its opinions via the organ. Chief Executive Carrie Lam, citing the "Hong Kong National Security Law", mentioned that information reviewed by the NSC cannot be disclosed, and its decisions will not be subject to judicial review. By the same logic, in the future, the authorities may not explain to the public why a candidate is disqualified.

Over the past 20 years, Hongkongers have deemed the pace of democratisation slow, while for the central government, Hong Kong politics has gone terribly wrong. From the anti-Article 23 movement, to the Occupy Central movement, to the anti-amendment storm, the central government thinks the demand for democratisation has morphed into a democratic resistance to China and the Hong Kong Independence movement. The new set-up greatly emphasises the role and functions of the nation, which is a paradigm shift for Hong Kong. The central government believes that a bottom-up approach to Hong Kong's political development can no longer be taken. In addition to "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong", the central government also has to play a greater role. A top-down approach and the fulfilment of "one country, two systems" will allow Hong Kong to move towards "elitist politics". Such a line of thinking is exemplified in what the CE said yesterday (March 30). She mentioned that in the hope that more talents will go into politics in the future, half of the members of the technology and innovation sector of the Election Committee will be nominated by the Hong Kong members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. The problem is, besides bringing in insightful individuals who used to wince at politics, there are some peculiar components on the Election Committee. It remains unknown what changes the Election Committee membership of fellow townsmen associations and District Fight Crime Committees, a new political springboard, will bring to Hong Kong's political ecology.

明報社評2021.03.31:中央把關從嚴從緊 香港政治範式轉變

全國人大常委會通過修訂《基本法》附件一及附件二,立法會產生辦法,敲定「432」方案,直選議席大減,選舉委員會權力顯著擴大,候選人資格審查委員會(下稱「資審委」)履行把關職責,將與特區國安委和國安處緊密配合。

觀乎人大常委會對基本法附件一、二的修訂,明顯傾向從嚴從緊,立法會直選成分顯著減少,提名門檻相對偏高,泛民爭取議席難度明顯增加,整個制度設計,多方面都看到與國家相關的元素。

新制度下,選委會權力大增,新增的第五界別,即人大政協及全國團體香港成員代表,固然體現了國家元素;專業界方面,諸如會計界、法律界等,部分選委亦是由與國家相關的組織提名產生。日後參選立法會,須在選委會5個界別各自取得至少兩名選委提名,這樣的門檻,一定比不分界別只需10人提名為高,傳統民主派是否願意向人大政協拜票,換取入閘提名,將是一大未知數。

所有選委均為香港永久居民,不過整個選委會內的國家元素,將比以往更為突出,選委會設總召集人,由擔任國家領導職務的選委擔任,從中央角度,這可確保關鍵時刻有人發揮領導協調作用,顧全國家大局。另外,資審委成員由特區主要官員擔任,若有候選人資格存疑,將由國安處審查,交由國安委評估,若認為不合資格,將向資審委提交意見書。資審委是最終決定者,惟國安委的角色似乎更吃重,由於國安委設有中央指派的「國安事務顧問」,這亦意味中央在有需要時可透過機制表達意見。特首林鄭月娥提到,《港區國安法》列明國安委檢視的資料不能披露,有關決定不能司法覆核,按同一邏輯,日後當局未必會詳細公開交代「DQ」理由。

20多年來,港人覺得民主化步伐緩慢,中央則覺得香港政治出了大問題,由反23條立法、佔領運動到反修例風暴,民主化訴求異化為民主抗中和港獨。新制度設計如此強調國家角色及作用,對香港而言是一次範式轉變,中央認為香港政治發展不能再走自下而上的一套,港人治港之餘,中央亦需要發揮更大作用,以自上而下方式,貫徹一國兩制,讓香港朝「賢能精英政治」方向走。昨天特首提到,選委會科技創新界有一半委員,將由中科院及中國工程院香港院士等提名,希望未來有更多人才參政從政,反映的正是這一思路,問題是選委會的構成,除了吸納一批之前聞政治色變的有識之士,亦有一些奇怪組合,同鄉社團、各區撲滅罪行委員會等新的從政跳板,會為香港政治生態帶來什麼轉變,仍是未知之數。

■Glossary

生字

paradigm shift : a great and important change in the way sth is done or thought about

vet : to make a careful and critical examination of sth

wince : to suddenly make an expression with your face that shows that you are embarrassed or feeling pain

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