Constitutional Affairs Panel Meeting
of 21 December 1998

Mechanism for amending the Basic Law


The Secretary for Constitutional Affairs reported verbally on the mechanism for amending the Basic Law at the Constitutional Affairs Panel meeting of 21 December 1998. This paper aims to set out the salient points made on that day to facilitate Members' understanding of the Administration's preliminary views on this matter.

Preliminary Views

2. The Administration considers that any proposal to amend the Basic Law is a matter of constitutional importance and should be handled with prudence and care.

3. Article 159 of the Basic Law does not specify the detailed mechanism and procedure for proposing an amendment to the Basic Law. Our preliminary study reveals that there are a number of complicated issues which have to be fully studied and considered by the parties concerned. The relevant issues to be studied include -

  1. Who or which organisations within the SAR may initiate the process to amend the Basic Law?

  2. How to trigger the process?

  3. What form should the amendment proposal take?

  4. What should be the sequence and timeframe of deliberation by the three concerned parties?

  5. What should be the mechanism for amending an amendment proposal?

  6. How to ensure that the amendment proposal does not contravene the established basic policies of the People's Republic of China regarding Hong Kong?

  7. Should the public be consulted on the amendment proposal?

  8. Is there a need to underpin the process by local legislation? Is it appropriate to regulate by local legislation the manner in which LegCo Members and local deputies to the National People's Congress discharge their constitutional duties and responsibilities?

4. The Administration has begun studying these complicated issues. We will consult the parties concerned and aim to work out an appropriate mechanism in due course.

Constitutional Affairs Bureau
December 1998