Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

Lee warns lawmakers on reform plan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 June, 2010, 12:00am

The Democratic Party's founding chairman, Martin Lee Chu-ming, has warned lawmakers not to accept an amended constitutional reform proposal in which District Council seats in the Legislative Council are open to public voting in 2012.

This follows signs that the Democrats and the Alliance for Universal Suffrage are softening their opposition to the proposal. Alliance convenor Fung Wai-wah said on Friday that the number of seats to be opened up for direct election was not its biggest concern. The Democratic Party, a key member group of the alliance, earlier pledged that it would only vote for the government's reform package if all of its three demands were met: that Beijing gives a convincing definition of universal suffrage; that the 2012 electoral methods are more democratic than the present proposals; and that the central government builds a long-term communication platform with pan-democrats.

But yesterday party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan indicated it would 'seriously consider' the package if the government amended the present proposal so that candidates for six functional constituency seats would be nominated by district councillors and elected by the public in 2012.

Speaking on a radio programme, Ho said: 'With our collective effort, it [the proposed amendment] should very likely be accepted. If it is not, then I will be very surprised and I won't be able to lead this negotiation in the future.'

Lee said he was very disappointed at his party's latest stance. 'The goal of ultimate universal suffrage has already disappeared ... Are the five [additional] District Council seats what Hong Kong people want?

'I hope the pan-democratic camp won't compromise on their principles. The Democratic Party joined the alliance to fight for ultimate universal suffrage. Should the group be renamed the Alliance for Transitional Universal Suffrage now?'

Civic Party vice-chairman Alan Leong Kah-kit went further, saying that endorsing a package with District Council sector seats opened up for direct election might only be 'going down the wrong path'.

'It can be part of the central government's plan to replace genuine universal suffrage with functional constituencies with nominations by district councillors. Citizens' right to stand in elections will still be constrained,' Leong said.

Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung said there was 'insufficient time' to achieve consensus over the alliance's proposal in Legco, before it votes on two resolutions to amend the Chief Executive and Legco election methods on June 23. Executive Councillor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung also appealed for public support for the package, warning that veto of the proposals would make constitutional development remain static for 10 more years.