Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

Democratic Party hopes to have a direct line to Beijing by 2012

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 December, 2010, 12:00am

A formal channel of communication between Beijing and the pan-democrats will be created 'hopefully no later than 2012', according to Albert Ho Chun-yan.

The Democratic Party chairman said yesterday it would be built on the 'understanding with Beijing' that came about during the constitutional-reform discussions.

Speaking on a Commercial Radio programme, Ho elaborated on his wish to have regular communications with the central government.

'The mainland and local academia can exchange views on how to implement suffrage,' he said. 'Then it can be extended to non-governmental contacts and eventually to forging a formal platform.'

Ho's party was instrumental in passing the government's constitutional-reform package in June, after securing its 'one person, two votes' proposal as a result of negotiations with Beijing.

Despite the previous deadlock-breaking, Ho said mutual trust remained at a low level between Beijing and local pan-democrats.

'The trust level is just sufficient to keep talks going on,' he said. 'But it is still a long way from what is needed for universal suffrage.'

But the Democrats' track record of giving a reasonable account of the talks to other political parties and the public could boost mutual trust, he added.

While some opponents have billed the party as a 'betrayer of democracy', Ho said: 'Our demand, to lay a suffrage timetable for one-off legislation that could lead to direct election of the chief executive in 2017 and the Legislative Council in 2020, remains unchanged.'

He added that the proposal introducing five district-council functional-constituency seats, to be voted on by more than three million voters who currently have no say in the existing functional constituencies, was also expected to bring variables to the next district-council poll in November of next year.

'The pro-government parties did not want our proposal to get passed, since they thought it would politicise the district-council election,' he said.