Electorate 'will surely' choose the chief executive in 2017, Tsang says

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 September, 2009, 12:00am

The use of universal suffrage in the chief executive elections in 2017 was a solemn pledge and would definitely happen, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said yesterday.

But the chief executive sidestepped a question raised by a reporter as to whether the government's constitutional reform plans relating to 2012 elections included dealing with electoral methods in 2017 and 2020.

A public consultation on constitutional reform plans for 2012 will be launched in the fourth quarter.

Attending the last policy address consultation session with a group of students at Munsang College yesterday, Tsang was asked by a secondary school student who will turn 18 in 2012 whether he would be able to vote that year in elections for the city's top post.

In reply, Tsang assured Chin Ka-kit that he would get to vote for the chief executive in 2017, adding that the central government had also promised that to Hongkongers.

Speaking to the press after yesterday's session with 900 students, Tsang reiterated that universal suffrage in the 2017 chief executive elections was a promise.

'There will not be extensive coverage on [constitutional reform in the policy address] as we haven't started public consultation yet. But universal suffrage for the chief executive [elections] by 2017 is a solemn pledge and it will surely happen,' he said.

Ka-kit said he expected to see larger-than-ever protests in Hong Kong if Tsang failed to keep his word.

'We have to trust his promise for the moment,' the student said.

'There will surely be larger protests than in 2003 to reflect people's views if [universal suffrage for the chief executive in 2017] fails,' he said, referring to the half a million protesters who marched against national security legislation six years ago.

Tsang outlined several major issues - financial problems, human swine flu and youth drug abuse - that he would touch on in his policy address on October 14.

His policy address before the legislature is normally followed the next day by a question-and-answer session with lawmakers.