Trade-based seats backed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2008, 12:00am

Trade-based functional constituencies can exist under a system of universal suffrage as long as all members of the public are allowed to vote in them, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung said yesterday.

But his remarks, which echoed those of senior Beijing officials, about whether or not to keep the 30 functional seats in the legislature under universal suffrage, were criticised by pan-democrats as a setback for real democracy.

On an RTHK programme, Mr Lam said there could be different systems in the composition of the legislature even under universal suffrage.

'Universal suffrage means all of the 3.3 million registered voters have their chance to cast their ballots,' he said. 'Either it is one person, one vote to directly elect all 60 seats from geographical constituencies, or there can be one person, two votes, where they can vote both in the geographical and functional constituencies.

'Another way is for district councillors to elect among themselves to generate additional legislators. All these are very democratic proposals.'

On Saturday, Qiao Xiaoyang, deputy secretary general of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, and Zhang Xiaoming , deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said functional constituencies had an important role in maintaining stability.

Although the NPC's decision - which opened the way to universal suffrage for the election of the chief executive in 2017 and of the legislature in 2020 - did not specify details, pan-democrats fear the officials' remarks indicate that functional seats, elected by the votes of only 160,000 voters, will be there to stay.

Democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming urged the public to 'see clearly' the danger of keeping functional seats in 2020. 'If certain conservative sectors, such as the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, nominate two hardcore leftists, the public would still be left with no choice,' he said.