Pan-democrats issue ultimatum on reform plan
Ambrose Leung and Gary Cheung
Pan-democrat lawmakers - backed by a coalition of community groups - have given Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen an ultimatum: withdraw the constitutional reform proposal and replace it with a new one or we will veto it.
The ultimatum is contained in a statement by the main pan-democratic parties and 38 community groups to be issued on Monday, the day the resolutions on the 2012 chief executive and legislature electoral arrangements are expected to be tabled in the Legislative Council.
'The situation has reached a state that we can no longer stand,' according to the statement. 'If the government refuses to withdraw the proposal, all 23 pan-democrat lawmakers will use their votes to veto the present proposal.'
The groups also criticised Beijing for trying to 'split the pan-democratic camp' by engaging it in a dialogue with no result, and said the Hong Kong government was only concentrating its efforts on running 'political shows' to support the reform proposal.
Democratic Party lawmaker Wong Sing-chi said consensus on the tough stance was reached during a meeting of pan-democrats and the community groups yesterday as the lack of any response from the government and Beijing to their demands indicated no concessions were likely.
'We are getting closer every day towards the day of the vote and are seeing no concessions. It is better for the government to withdraw the proposal,' Wong said.
He said the groups were also considering calling for Tsang to resign if the present proposal is vetoed on June 23 - the day it is expected to be put to a vote.
But if the government made any new concessions, his party would consider them.
Independent democrat Cyd Ho Sau-lan said the groups' consensus was that in any new proposals, the government must address public desire for universal suffrage, the scrapping of Legco functional constituencies and appointed seats in the district councils.
A person familiar with the government position said June 23 was still the most likely date for the vote.
Responding to speculation that he is being lobbied by the government to provide one of the marginal crucial votes to ensure the passage of the proposal, independent democrat Joseph Lee Kok-long, representing the health services sector, said no officials from either Hong Kong or Beijing had approached him.
'As for how to vote, I will follow the lead of my pan-democratic allies,' said Lee, who is a member of the Alliance for Universal Suffrage.
The government needs four pan-democrat votes to gain the required two-thirds majority in the 60-seat council.
Meanwhile, Tsang and his political team will stage another street campaign tomorrow to sell the reform proposal to the public.
The political appointees - including ministers, undersecretaries and political assistants - will divide into three teams to reach out to the public in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories.
Tsang and several ministers will take to the streets in Hong Kong Island handing out pamphlets while Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen will lead another team in Kowloon.
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung will team up in the New Territories. The whole campaign, expected to last more than an hour, will be open to media coverage.