Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

We're ready to quit panel if our views are ignored: democrats

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 January, 2007, 12:00am

Some democrats on a top government panel on universal suffrage are prepared to resign in protest if officials ignore their views in the final report due early this year.

Lee Cheuk-yan, one of the seven pan-democracy figures on a panel of the Commission on Strategic Development, said it would be meaningless to stay on if the government insisted the trade-based functional constituencies in the Legislative Council were compatible with universal suffrage.

The unionist legislator said he had suggested a mass resignation in protest to his allies if the government refused to drop the position.

The commission is moving towards the final stage of concluding discussions on universal suffrage models in the first quarter of this year. The commission's tenure will finish by the end of June.

At present, half of the Legco seats are allocated to trades and professions, covering only 215,500 voters. There have been suggestions the functional constituencies be kept but electoral arrangements be brought in line with the principle of equal suffrage, according to a commission discussion paper.

Civic Party chairman Kuan Hsin-chi believed the allies would quit if the final report failed to take the democrats' views on board.

'The possibility of mass resignation is always there. I am sure it will happen if the final paper to be produced by the government is hailed as a document of consensus while the views of the democratic camp are ignored,' he said.

Mr Lee said he was prepared to quit if functional constituencies were to be retained indefinitely.

'We have raised objections four or five times but still, keeping functional constituencies remains an option. How could such elite-based elections be compatible with universal suffrage? We ought to consider if we should stay or quit,' he said.

He said the seven members had yet to make a final decision on whether to quit as a bloc, with some suggesting they should first seek a meeting with Constitutional Affairs Secretary Stephen Lam Sui-lung and urge him drop the position on functional constituencies.

Mr Lee dismissed the suggestion a mass resignation would be a political show, as the commission's tenure only lasts another six months.

Lee Wing-tat, formerly Democratic Party chairman and a member of the panel, warned of the negative consequence of mass resignation. Expecting the commission to start a new term in July and continue to work out issues related to universal suffrage, he said democrats would not be reappointed if they resigned in protest.

'We haven't moved to that stage yet. I think we should stay and engage the government in order to shape the final outcome,' he said.