Universal suffrage

Tang warns on radical action

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2007, 12:00am

Chief Secretary Henry Tang Yin-yen yesterday urged Hongkongers not to resort to civil disobedience to pressure the government to move faster on political reform, saying it would not succeed.

He was speaking after former lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan suggested non-co-operative action - such as delaying rate payments - to fight for dual universal suffrage by 2012, during a forum on Sunday.

Speaking after a forum with community organisations in Tsuen Wan, Mr Tang said he could not see such action succeeding and reminded residents there was a 5 per cent penalty after the first warning for delayed rates payment and a 10 per cent penalty after the second warning.

'I don't agree with such methods to seek universal suffrage,' he said.

He reiterated that the government was sincere in consulting the public on political reform and had welcomed submissions in response to the green paper.

'There is no need to express views through such radical action,' he said, 'I'd urge citizens not to knowingly break the law. Paying rates is every resident's duty.'

About 20 rowdy protesters outside the forum venue last night were upset at Mr Tang's refusal to accept petitions from the pan-democrats demanding universal suffrage by 2012.

A petition area, separate from the protest area, had been arranged for handing in letters. But pan-democrats insisted Mr Tang meet them in the protest area and threatened to break through the barriers.

When legislator 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung tried to intercept Mr Tang at one entrance, he found only the driver in the car as Mr Tang had alighted elsewhere.

The pan-democrats' message was also lost in the whistles and chants of about 70 members of the New Territories Association of Societies supporting the government.

Afterwards, Mr Tang said he had accepted 'not a few' letters at the designated area.

Yesterday's closed-door forum was the first of four to be conducted during the consultation on constitutional reform. Mr Tang said he felt there was a consensus among participants that economic development was a primary principle.

'Economic and political development do not contradict each other ... but we must find the appropriate balance,' he said.