Roadshow rolls on with a kinder reception for justice minister

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 June, 2010, 12:00am

Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung received a kinder reception yesterday than some of his colleagues have been given on the past couple of weekends, as he continued the government's political reform roadshow.

About 20 protesters greeted him with chants and placards ridiculing the Act Now campaign as he arrived at a Tai Wai secondary school for a presentation on what the government says are the advantages of its 2012 election proposals.

But there was none of the heckling or shouting down faced by officials - including Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen - in previous presentations. Using PowerPoint with an Act Now logo, Wong said he often heard protesters chanting that they wanted universal suffrage and the right to elect the chief executive. 'I want universal suffrage too. And I also want the right to elect the chief executive,' he said.

However, Wong said that ideals could only be converted into real change by applying realistic thinking.

Demands for greater reforms over universal suffrage were unrealistic given the legal constraints set in the 2007 decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, which gave the present government authority to propose reforms for 2012, and not the universal suffrage models for 2017 and 2020, he told the students.

The requirement to maintain a 50:50 ratio between functional and geographical constituencies also meant it was unrealistic to expect radical change to the functional constituencies at the moment. 'It is not the case that passing the 2012 reforms means you cannot continue to make those changes. But vetoing the proposal means we will remain at a standstill,' Wong said.

Regarding the ministers' Act Now campaign, Wong denied it was just a show as 'doing a show is meaningless'. He said he would not pass up any opportunity to communicate with the public.

As Wong tried to leave the school, protesters surrounded his car, with one man denouncing him for lying to children. The protester said he was not affiliated with any political party.

Wong did not take questions from reporters but told pupils that Standing Committee deputy secretary general Qiao Xiaoyang said on Monday that universal suffrage meant 'universal and equal suffrage', but did not elaborate on whether this applied to the right to vote, right to be elected, or simply to have a 'right of election'.