Democrats seek voters' views on joining Selection Committee

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 August, 1996, 12:00am

THE Democratic Party is conducting its own opinion poll on whether it should join the Selection Committee or should change its opposition to the provisional legislature.

But the party vowed last night that it would not change its stance, saying the survey was only for internal analysis.

The poll asks three questions: Do you think the Democratic Party should join the Selection Committee? Do you think the Democratic Party should change its stance on the provisional legislature for the sake of communication with China? Are you aware that one of the functions of the 400-strong Selection Committee is to choose the provisional legislature? Party secretary-general Law Chi-kwong said last night that the poll, which interviewed 500 people on Friday and yesterday, aimed to double-check the results of surveys conducted by several newspapers in the past week.

'We think there are some grammatical and logical mistakes in the questionnaires of these surveys,' Dr Law said.

'We want to do it again, collect data and see the views of different members of the public,' he said.

'We won't change our stance. I can't see any way in which we can reverse our decision of not joining the Selection Committee and provisional legislature, since the party's standing committee is so firm on these subjects.' Opinion polls conducted by Apple Daily, Ming Pao and the Economic Times last week showed strong support for dialogue between the Democrats and Beijing.

A majority said the party should nominate members to the Selection Committee.

Party vice-chairman Dr Yeung Sum reiterated earlier yesterday that although both sides had different opinions on the pace of democratic development, discussions should still be held.

Chinese Vice-Premier Qian Qichen offered an olive branch to the Democrats during the Preparatory Committee plenum last week, saying Beijing could discuss with them the question of Hong Kong, as long as they supported the resumption of sovereignty and hoped for a smooth transition.

The party has refused to allow its members to join the Selection Committee, but wrote to Mr Qian, Director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Lu Ping and Xinhua (the New China News Agency) Director Zhou Nan , asking for formal talks.

Since Mr Qian's overture, the party has come under increasing pressure to join the committee.

But in today's Sunday Morning Post, party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming argues that doing so would be 'tantamount to sacrificing the end for the means'.

'Taking part in the Selection Committee would confer legitimacy on an illegitimate process and would hopelessly compromise our ability to fight the provisional legislature,' he writes.

Mr Lee says that if the party agreed to take part in the Selection Committee, it would be betraying its principles and the people who voted for it.