Mechanism for Amending the Basic Law

Procedures and Timetable for devising the mechanism

At the CA Panel meeting held on 17 May, we said that in order to work out an appropriate mechanism to implement BL 159, it would be necessary for us fully to consult all the relevant parties. We also set out the procedures and steps required for the whole process. Subsequently we had a meeting with the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), and sought their views on the feasibility of drawing up a timetable and the questions identified at the special meetings of the CA Panel held in March. HKMAO undertook to consider the relevant issues.

2. The Administration understands that Members wish to be informed of the rough timetable for completing the whole process. However, as we said at the last meeting, it is not possible at this stage for the Administration to provide any concrete timetable for completing the whole process. It is impossible to predict in advance as to how much time each step in the process will take. Much depends on progress of the matter in general and how long the discussions will take. Moreover, many of the steps involve discussions with the Central authorities on matters relating to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC), the State Council, the Basic Law Committee and the local NPC deputies. These matters cannot be resolved by Hong Kong on our own, and we cannot unilaterally set a timetable. However, at the request of the Panel, we have, so far as possible for the HKSAR to do so, tried to provide a rough estimate of the time required for some of the steps. Our preliminary rough estimates are as follows -

Steps and ProceduresTimeframe
(i)Summarise views expressed and discuss the relevant issues/questions with the CPG/NPCSC; and allow time for the CPG/NPCSC to study the relevant issues/questions, consult the Hong Kong NPC deputies and the Basic Law Committee, etc. and to formulate their views on the relevant issues.

Discussions with the CPG have commenced. The exact timeframe is subject to progress of discussions.
(ii)Meetings with CPG/NPCSC to gauge their preliminary views.

(iii)Report to ExCo on the Administration's preliminary views and progress of discussions with the CPG/NPCSC; and report progress to the CA Panel.

about 1 to 2 months
(iv)The Administration to formulate the proposed mechanism and prepare documents for consultation with LegCo, the legal profession, academics, and the general public, etc.

about 3 to 4 months
(v)Discuss the proposed mechanism with the CPG/NPCSC.

subject to progress of discussions
(vi)Consider the views collected and finalise the Administration's proposal.

about 2 to 3 months
(vii)Consult ExCo on the finalised proposal.

about 1 to 2 months
(viii)Report to the CA Panel on the finalised proposal, and brief the CPG / NPCSC.

about 2 months
(ix)If local legislation is required: the Administration to draft and introduce the legislation into the Legislative Council (LegCo); and LegCo to examine the bill and enact the necessary legislation.

about 6 to 9 months

Constitutional Affairs Bureau
June 1999