'Massive' impact seen in move to quit Legco

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 September, 2009, 12:00am
 

Any move to resign en masse by the 23 pan-democratic lawmakers as a tactic to fight for universal suffrage would have 'massive political impact' in Beijing and internationally, the Legislative Council's president said yesterday.

Tsang Yok-sing also said that if pan-democrats want to improve relations with the central government, they should not boycott trips to the mainland, as some of them did with last week's visit to Sichuan .

'If more than a third of our legislators resigned, there would be a massive political impact,' he said at a media gathering. 'The reaction among the Hong Kong public, the central government and the international community cannot be estimated.'

The Civic Party has proposed that all pan-democrat lawmakers resign around 2011 if their negotiations with the government over constitutional reform fail, and if the government still refuses to make real democratic progress after the camp triggers a de facto referendum on suffrage.

Under the referendum plan, first floated by the League of Social Democrats, one lawmaker from each of the five geographical constituencies would quit when the government publishes reform plans for the 2012 chief executive and Legco elections before Christmas.

This would trigger by-elections in which those who resigned would campaign on a shared platform demanding universal suffrage - or, short of that, a clear road map on how the chief executive and Legco elections would be conducted in 2017 and 2020 when, Beijing has ruled, universal suffrage may be introduced. The issue has caused a split among pan-democrats, after the league and the Civic Party reached a preliminary consensus to launch the de facto referendum plan through resignations.

Yesterday Szeto Wah, a party elder of the Democratic Party - which is still considering whether to participate in the plan - lashed out at supporters of the mass resignation plan, saying 'these people haven't done any real work' in pro-democracy campaigns. 'They don't know the fight for democracy is a long and difficult path,' Szeto said. 'Do you think everyone supports [the resignation plan]?' He said he had supported the plan in July because he did not want his party to be attacked, after other pan-democrats had appeared to gain 'the morale high ground' by first proposing it.

Tsang yesterday joked that the pan-democrats were trying to put him in a difficult position. As a Beijing loyalist, he would be pressured to make the unprecedented move of voting, as Legco president, in favour of any constitutional plan opposed by the 18 remaining pan-democrats. That would fulfil the Basic Law requirement that such plans be endorsed by two-thirds of the legislature.

As for the camp's relations with Beijing, Tsang said Beijing had decided to invite only two, moderate, democrats to attend National Day celebrations in the capital because some democrats had boycotted a trip to Sichuan despite being selectively invited by the mainland.

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