Donald Tsang

Accept reality, prepare for 2017 and 2020, Tsang urges

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 January, 2008, 12:00am

City must work with democracy timetable: chief executive

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has urged the business community and political parties to prepare for universal suffrage in 2017 and 2020.

Speaking on an RTHK programme before yesterday's march for universal suffrage in 2012, Mr Tsang said he understood some people had been disappointed. But he said 2012 was an impossible goal.

'Now that a timetable has been sent, I hope everyone will be able to focus on what is possible, rather than what is not,' he said on RTHK's Letter to Hong Kong, in a programme called 'Political Reform - Let's Get the Job Done'.

In a landmark ruling last month, the National People's Congress Standing Committee allowed universal suffrage for the chief executive election in 2017 and the Legislative Council election in 2020.

But pan-democrats fighting for full democracy in 2012 were upset by the move, warning that a timetable without detailed electoral proposals might lead to 'fake' democracy.

Mr Tsang, who took to the airwaves for the second time in nine days, said Hong Kong had been given a clear timetable on universal suffrage for the first time.

'This is a historic opportunity. We should embrace it. At the same time, we should also understand that this opportunity carries enormous responsibility.

'We've got our wish for a timetable. Now it's up to us to fill in the blanks,' he said.

Mr Tsang said the government would start devising ways over the next few months to make elections in 2012 more democratic.

There would have to be some give and take as the details were hammered out, he said.

Referring to the ill-fated electoral reforms for 2007 and 2008, which were rejected by the pan-democrats, the chief executive warned against making no progress again.

He stressed that Beijing and the Hong Kong government were sincere about making progress on democratisation.

'The central government has placed its trust in us to make progress in 2012. We need to achieve this milestone. If we can't make progress in 2012, it will not only be a great disservice to the people of Hong Kong, it will also be a great disservice to our country,' he said.

'I am sure we can forge a consensus that is broadly acceptable to most in Hong Kong. Indeed, this is our obligation to the community.'

Now that any doubts about the possible timing of universal suffrage had been dispelled, Mr Tsang said the business sector would need to make a more systematic approach to politics, through the party system, through professional or trade groups, or even by sponsoring think-tanks.

'As our political system advances and matures, the business sector will have to follow suit, because public expectations will undoubtedly increase as the years go by,' he said.

Political parties would also have to cope with universal suffrage in the Legislative Council by nurturing more talent and offering constructive policy alternatives, he said.