Reconciliation is key for 2017, says Legco chief

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 March, 2012, 12:00am


The key to settling long-standing differences between pro-government and pan-democratic camps hinges on how the central leadership perceives the pan-democrats, Tsang Yok-sing says.

The Legislative Council president is an advocate of what he calls the 'great reconciliation' - resolving chronic ideological conflicts between the two sides.

'Reconciling the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camps is necessary as universal suffrage looms in 2017,' said Tsang, a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference attending the plenary session in Beijing. 'Can Beijing accept a pan-democrat to become chief executive? It depends on whether the pro-government camp stereotypes the pan-democrats as traitors, and vice versa.'

The 'great reconciliation' was one of Tsang's ideals as he mulled running for chief executive last month. If he ever assumed the city's top office, he said, he would recruit capable pan-democrats into his cabinet, as a step towards reconciliation.

The founding chairman of the former Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong admitted he 'had been preparing' for the race, as smear campaigns clouded election front runners Henry Tang Ying-yen and Leung Chun-ying. Tsang declined to say if he would cast a blank vote on March 25, the day when a 1,193-strong Election Committee will choose the city's next leader.

Although Tsang is not running for chief executive, he has not stopped thinking about questions raised by the possibility of a 'great reconciliation', saying the answers could help resolve differences as lawmakers sought election to Legco in September. But he lamented that the media sometimes overreacted, scuppering any dialogue between the pan-democrats and the central government.

'I have tried to arrange meetings between all lawmakers and mainland officials over non-sensitive issues and the pan-democrats came very well prepared,' he said.

'But the media loved to ask them sensitive questions such as, 'Will you ask mainland officials to vindicate June 4?' The pan-democrats could not say no in front of the camera, but the mainland officials would be surprised, thinking, 'Didn't they come to discuss environmental issues?''

Tsang believed there was a lack of political talent in the city, concurring with director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Wang Guangya, who has said 'problems arise in the development of party politics in the short run'.

'I am not confident that the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong has enough talent to fill all the ministerial seats. Not a single political party in Hong Kong has,' he said.

'A coalition government is simply impossible', he said. 'What [former legislator] Allen Lee Peng-fei has said - sharing cabinet seats among different parties - is not a coalition government at all.' Tsang expected the DAB, which holds 10 seats in Legco, to secure 11 to 14 in September. It aims to win two of the five new district council functional constituency seats.