Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Monday that Beijing's radical overhaul of the SAR's electoral system is not designed to exclude opposition voices, as she insisted that Hong Kong people will eventually get a say in the city's democratic development – once the "deficiencies and loopholes" have been eradicated.
"The improvements to the electoral system in the SAR are not designed to favour someone, it is designed to ensure that whoever is administering Hong Kong is patriotic," she said, adding that allowing someone to govern a place without being patriotic would be "inconceivable".
Lam said that only once this requirement for patriots is ensured can the city's stability and prosperity be safeguarded, and this will help preserve the constitutional order and resolve deep-seated problems.
"Once Hong Kong people realise these justifications, I'm sure that they would take these elections very seriously," Lam said. "By returning people who are patriotic [and] follow One Country, Two Systems, Hong Kong will have a much brighter future".
The CE said the reforms are timely, legal and constitutional, as well as being needed to get "One Country, Two Systems" back on track.
With Beijing imposing the reforms, Lam said there won't be any public consultation, but the government and lawmakers will listen to the views of the public.
In the future though, Hong Kong people will have a role to play in formulating the city's democratic development, she said.
"But it has to take place within the proper constitutional framework, and that is One Country, Two Systems. What we're now seeing is deficiencies in the electoral system that could be exploited by some people, including some external forces, and hence return politicians that may take advantage of their position to undermine governance, or even undermine national security and development interests of the country," Lam said.
"So when everything is now being restored to its proper constitutional order, since Basic Law Article 45 and Basic Law Article 68 are maintained and retained... then the chance will come, the time will come for Hong Kong's political system to move forward in a gradual, orderly manner with a view to achieving that ultimate objective of universal suffrage in the selection of the chief executive."
The chief executive could not categorically say whether the overdue Legislative Council elections – which the government cancelled in 2020 citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – will go ahead as suggested this September.
She said there are still several steps, involving the National People's Congress and its standing committee, that need to take place before Legco elections could be held under the changed electoral arrangements.
The changes will include giving powers to the committee that selects the city's chief executive to take part in nominating all candidates for Legco, and for it to choose some of the council members itself.