Blueprint for democratic reform 'must create level playing field'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2007, 12:00am

A future system for electing the chief executive by universal suffrage should not bar any candidates from running based on their political affiliations, executive councillor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said.

He also said the final proposal to be put together by the government should have room for fine-tuning once it is put on the table, to ensure that the pan-democrats, Beijing loyalists and the central government can reach a consensus.

'Any proposals must not prevent any political group's chance to participate in the election. Any system must be a level playing field. I hope the proposal to be put together by the government would allow people like Alan Leong to run,' Professor Cheung said yesterday.

The government's green paper on constitutional reform, issued last week, did not clearly define the Basic Law's requirement that candidates for chief executive be nominated through a 'democratic process' before they contest an election under universal suffrage.

Critics have raised fears that the government could introduce a vetting mechanism to assuage Beijing's fear that pan-democrats, such as the Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah-kit, who ran for chief executive in March, would stand a chance of winning when the electorate is expanded from the 796-strong Election Committee which currently picks Hong Kong's leader.

'Assuming Beijing is worried, our task now is to convince Beijing that its worries are unnecessary. Any election must be open and fair and all contestants face a degree of risk of losing,' he said.

Professor Cheung said the government could come up with a final proposal either before or after the Legislative Council election next year.

But it should leave room for fine-tuning after negotiations by various parties, in order to avoid the proposal being vetoed by lawmakers, as happened with electoral reforms proposed in 2005.

'Every party must feel they get something out of it - otherwise they won't have an incentive to support it,' he said.