Give clear answer on 2017, Beijing is urged
Fanny W. Y Fung and Ng Kang-chung
Beijing was urged yesterday by Basic Law Committee member and local deputy to the National People's Congress Maria Tam Wai-chu to give a clear answer on whether it would allow universal suffrage in Hong Kong in 2017.
The NPC Standing Committee broke into six groups to discuss the report received from Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen on Hong Kong's constitutional reform - one of 25 items on its agenda as the week-long meeting moved into its second day yesterday.
Speaking after the discussion, Ms Tam said she had suggested at the meeting that universal suffrage for the chief executive should be implemented in 2017, with full democracy to elect the Legislative Council later.
Although the chief executive's report was a technicality to seek the Standing Committee's permission to amend the election methods in 2012, Ms Tam said she hoped the proposal of universal suffrage in 2017 could also be addressed. 'My choice is 2017,' she said. 'I hope a clear answer can come up in this meeting.'
Xinhua reported that members of the committee considered Mr Tsang's report 'positive, responsible and pragmatic', saying it had comprehensively and objectively reflected the community's views on constitutional development.
Mr Tsang concluded in his report that universal suffrage in 2017 would stand a better chance of being accepted by the majority of the community. However, Hong Kong member of the Standing Committee, Tsang Hin-chi, said the committee should not say in its decision on Saturday whether universal suffrage would be implemented in that year.
'Whether to implement universal suffrage in 2017, before 2017 or later than 2017 is not to be decided by the Standing Committee now,' he said, reiterating that its approval was the last step in passing a constitutional reform proposal under the Basic Law, following the Legislative Council's endorsement and chief executive's approval.
Philip Wong Yu-hong, another local NPC deputy who attended the meeting, said many deputies had said any political reform in Hong Kong should benefit economic growth. The Standing Committee is due to vote on Saturday morning on whether the 2012 election methods should be amended, and Deputy Secretary General Qiao Xiaoyang will fly to Hong Kong to explain the decision later in the day.
In Hong Kong yesterday, the pro-democracy camp extended its fight for universal suffrage in 2012 to cyberspace.
An electronic Christmas card that reads 'Every Hong Kong person's wish - double universal suffrage in 2012' was posted on the website www.2012us.com. The pan-democrats urged people to download the e-card and send it to the NPC.
Emily Lau Wai-hing of The Frontier said 2017 was 'too long'.
Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said they planned a rally outside the Legislative Council building on Saturday to coincide with the announcement of the NPC's decision.