Compromise to make electoral progress, democrat urges allies

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 January, 2008, 12:00am
 

A veteran pan-democratic lawmaker has called on fellow democrats to compromise on electoral arrangements in 2012 to pave the way for the introduction of universal suffrage in 2017.

Lau Chin-shek also suggested that in 2016 and 2020 the pan-democrats forsake the functional constituencies they represented to persuade the government-friendly camp and business community to agree to the eventual abolition of the trade-based constituencies.

Mr Lau, who in 2004 called for a 'big reconciliation' between Beijing and the democrats, said taking a step forward in electoral reforms in 2012 would help build trust between the pan-democrats and the central government, which was conducive to the election of the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017.

'The democrats should understand that the goal of universal suffrage can never be achieved if our electoral system marches on the spot. Every step forward means we are edging closer to the eventual goal,' Mr Lau said.

Last month, the National People's Congress Standing Committee ruled out universal suffrage by 2012 but opened the possibility for it in the 2017 chief executive and 2020 Legislative Council elections.

'The pan-democratic camp can pave the way for implementing universal suffrage in 2017 if they make some compromise or give and take on electoral reform in 2012,' Mr Lau said.

He called on forces across the political spectrum not to go down the same path the pan-democrats did in 2005 when they vetoed government proposals for elections in 2007 and this year.

Mr Lau said the government- loyalist camp had a duty to help Beijing achieve social harmony by reaching a consensus on the path to full democracy.

He urged it to put forward proposals such as a method to elect the chief executive using a low entry threshold for candidates, and the abolition of functional constituencies in phases.

Seven functional constituencies are represented by pan-democrat lawmakers, with 23 seats taken by the government-friendly camp.

Meanwhile, Frontier legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing said executive councillor Ronald Arculli met some pan-democrat lawmakers on Tuesday. They covered political development and their desire to meet Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

But she dismissed claims that Mr Arculli had been sent by the chief executive to open a communication channel with the democrats.

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