By KEITH BRADSHER, The New York Times, March 13, 2005
HONG KONG, March 13 - - A decision by the Hong Kong government to shorten the term of the territory's next chief executive, as demanded by Beijing, drew strong objections today and late Saturday from democracy advocates, who warned the plan could trigger a constitutional crisis.
The Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, mentions only five-year terms for chief executives. But Elsie Leung, the territory's secretary for justice, announced on Saturday, after a visit to Beijing, that a new chief executive would be chosen this summer to complete the two remaining years in the current term of Tung Chee-hwa. Complaining of stress and other health problems, Mr. Tung submitted his resignation on Thursday. It took effect immediately when Beijing officials accepted it on Saturday. Donald Tsang, who had been the chief secretary here, became acting chief executive.
Mr. Tsang said at a news conference on Saturday evening that the same 800-member Electoral Committee of Beijing loyalists that selected Mr. Tung by acclamation for a second, five-year term in 2002 would meet on July 10 to choose a successor. The government here plans to amend the local election ordinance to make this possible, Mr. Tsang added.----------------