Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

Pan-democrats accused of changing demands on reform

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 June, 2010, 12:00am

A government official yesterday accused pan-democrats of changing their demands in the negotiation process for constitutional reform.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung also called on lawmakers to stop doubting central government officials' remarks on Hong Kong's political development. His comments came two days after the deputy secretary general of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, Qiao Xiaoyang , offered his definition of universal suffrage.

Lam was responding to legislators' comments on reform in a motion debate. Listing a universal suffrage timetable, the abolition of appointed seats on district councils and the election of district council-sector lawmakers through a proportional representation system as three demands made by pan-democrats when they voted on the 2005 package, Lam said the government had already offered what the camp had asked for in the present proposal and urged it to accept it.

'I really have the feeling and observation that at different points of time, pan-democrats ask for different things ... In discussions with the pan-democratic camp, sometimes some people suddenly lift the asking price,' he said.

While Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan and his allies doubted Qiao's definition of universal suffrage, Lam hit back by saying it was the party which asked Beijing to explain the matter.

'Don't just doubt the credibility whenever a central government representative speaks,' the minister told pan-democrats.

Ho said Qiao had failed to recognise the equal right to nominate candidates and the equal right to stand in an election. 'Qiao Xiaoyang's speech could not ease doubts. Instead it triggered more doubts.'

Ho also asked whether Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, as the top political leader, should resign if the package was vetoed. His party colleague Lee Wing-tat said: 'Political leaders of most countries resign for their political flaws. If a motion is not passed, a leader would resign, just like former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama. Tsang should also do the same if he faces the second turn-down of the reform package within the term.'

Lam said Tsang had fulfilled his responsibility and realised election promises and would not resign.

'Tsang had fought for a timetable of universal suffrage within his first term. He also made up a reform package with heavier democratic elements. The lawmakers should not shoulder the responsibility of passing the proposal to the officers only,' he said.

'We will try our best to get the proposal passed. We believe the government would receive public support, as opinion polls show that over half of the citizens support the government proposal.'

The non-binding motion, tabled by the Civic Party's Ronny Tong Ka-wah, urged the government to motivate in-depth discussions on the selection of the chief executive by universal suffrage, and on the issue of functional constituencies. It was defeated by pro-government lawmakers.