More people willing to compromise on date for suffrage

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2007, 12:00am

More people will accept universal suffrage in 2017 if that is Beijing's choice, although 2012 still receives majority support, according to Chinese University surveys in recent months.

In the most recent survey by its Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, from September 20 to September 24 and involving 801 people, 63.6 per cent of those in favour of returning the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2012 said they would compromise if Beijing opted for 2017. The figure in its August survey was 59.4 per cent; in July, 61.4 per cent were prepared to compromise.

'People's willingness to compromise is significant and steady,' the institute said. The latest survey had a margin for error of plus or minus 3.46 per cent.

A majority of respondents in all three surveys favoured electing the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2012 - 51.4 per cent in September, 51.1 per cent in August and 52.8 per cent in July. Among the rest, 2017 was slightly more popular. .

Li Guikang , deputy director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, said in August that recent survey findings that more than half of Hong Kong people could accept delaying the introduction of universal suffrage until after 2012 showed they were becoming increasingly rational about constitutional development.

Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen has dismissed as a political gesture the insistence by some people that universal suffrage must come in 2012. The pan-democratic camp has criticised him for trying to talk down the 2012 option when consultation on the government's green paper on universal suffrage has not ended.

Survey respondents remain divided on when to elect the Legislative Council by universal suffrage. About 40 per cent back 2012, some 36 per cent support 2016 and 17.7 per cent favour a date later than 2016.

The government consultation on the green paper on political reform is scheduled to end next Wednesday.