Beijing willing to concede to win support, ex-NPC deputy says

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 May, 2010, 12:00am

Beijing will consider a 2005 plan to admit all 400 directly elected district councillors into the committee that elects the chief executive in exchange for pan-democrat support for the government's electoral reform proposals, a veteran politician said.

Allen Lee Peng-fei, a former Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress, said that he had pressed for such a concession at a recent meeting with people in Beijing involved in constitutional reform negotiations.

'As long as the proposal is not worse than the 2005 one, and as long as the pan-democrats can field a candidate, 90 per cent of pan-democrats will support it. I was told Beijing would consider it,' Lee said.

Under his proposal, the 400 district councillors would become members of an enlarged 1,200-strong Election Committee in 2012, and the threshold for nominating a chief executive candidate would remain as one-eighth of the committee, or 150 members.

With universal suffrage expected at the 2017 chief executive election, and if the nomination process was based on an enlarged Election Committee that includes the directly elected district councillors, the democrats can reasonably expect to field a candidate, Lee said.

'My impression is that this can be used as an incentive for them to support both reform proposals,' Lee said. The government is expected to table separate proposals - one for the chief executive election, another for Legislative Council elections - for a vote in Legco.

Lee's proposal is similar to a demand made by the Democratic Party as part of a reform package it submitted yesterday to the central government's liaison office.

Even so, the party said the inclusion in 2012 of all directly elected district councillors into the Election Committee alone would not be enough to win its support. Among its other proposals is a demand to scrap the posts of government-appointed councillors.

One pan-democrat who was involved in the negotiations said that if Beijing could make clearer promises on the introduction of universal suffrage, his camp could consider the concession for the chief executive election.

'But this concession is not substantial enough to secure our support also for the Legco election arrangement,' the politician said.