Exco backs paper on 2012 electoral reform, but details unlikely
Gary Cheung and Ambrose Leung
The Executive Council yesterday endorsed the consultation paper on political reform in 2012, but key details on how to fill the proposed extra seats in the legislature are unlikely to be spelled out.
Lawmakers in the pan-democrat camp warned that without a clear road map to universal suffrage, and a genuine consultation, the government might see a repeat of the 2005 situation when the camp vetoed the administration's reform proposal.
The paper will be delivered by Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen in the legislature today.
The paper will pose questions such as whether appointed district councillors should be granted the right to vote in five new functional constituencies, whether the new seats should be open to anyone and on the nomination threshold for the chief executive election.
The government will outline its preferred model for the elections by stating its preference in questions in the paper, which will launch a three-month consultation period.
A person familiar with the consultation said the paper would spell out a feasible direction and clear path for electoral reform in 2012.
The consultation paper is expected to suggest the creation of 10 extra seats in the legislature, with five directly elected and five voted on by district councillors. It will also propose excluding appointed district councillors from the electorate in the new functional constituencies.
The administration is also expected to propose enlarging the 796-strong election committee that elected the chief executive in 2007 to 1,200.
A candidate running in the 2012 chief executive poll would be required to secure nominations from at least 150, or one-eighth, of the committee members, the same threshold as for the 2007 chief executive poll.
The person said details, such as the voting system for filling the extra seats to be returned by district councillors, would be addressed by local legislation after the proposal to amend the existing electoral system was passed by the legislature.
After a last-minute meeting with Tang, pan-democrats expressed regret that little effort had been made to heed their demands for a road map on how universal suffrage could be achieved in the consultation.
'We regret very much the fact that [Chief Executive] Donald Tsang [Yam-kuen] is trying to recycle the 2005 reform proposal. We cannot accept anything less than a clear promise of scrapping all functional constituencies ultimately under universal suffrage,' Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said.
Lee Cheuk-yan, of the Confederation of Trade Unions, warned the government would be 'pushing everyone into a dead end' if it tried to adopt the divisive tactics it had used in 2005 to seek support from individual pan-democrats. 'If you try to split our camp, we will bundle our votes to oppose your proposal again, which is meaningless for both sides,' Lee said.
Meanwhile, Wang Fengchao , a former deputy director of the central government's liaison office who retired in May, told local Beijing loyalists he had reservations over a proposal to democratise the functional constituencies by expanding the franchise held by some corporate voters to company directors.
Additional reporting by Eva Wu and Fanny W.Y. Fung