Beijing loyalist defends democracy time frame remarks

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2007, 12:00am

Veteran Beijing loyalist Cheng Yiu-tong yesterday defended his statement on Saturday that universal suffrage in 2012 was 'impossible', insisting there was no conflict in expressing his personal views despite being an executive councillor.

Mr Cheng, who is also a local delegate to the National People's Congress, stood by his remarks that one man, one vote could not be achieved in 2012 because it would not comply with the principle of 'gradual and orderly progress' as stated under the Basic Law.

His remarks, first made during a Cable TV interview, drew severe criticism, with some accusing him of infringing the Executive Council rule of collective responsibility because the 2012 time frame is one of the options in the government's green paper gathering public views on reform.

'I only expressed my views,' Mr Cheng said after a pre-policy address meeting with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. 'The government has its own views.'

Elaborating on his remarks that the central government would make its stance on the issue clear, Mr Cheng said he believed Beijing would only take action after reading the government's green paper report.

Rounding on his critics, he said people who claimed to fight for democracy were 'denouncing those who express different views by tongue and pen, and launching personal attacks against them'.

Another NPC delegate who attended the meeting, Ko Po-ling, said she believed 2017 was viable and that universal suffrage for the chief executive should precede that of the legislature. She agreed that 2012 did not adhere to the 'gradual and orderly progress' principle.