• Sat
  • Sep 20, 2014
  • Updated: 3:44pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 4:15am

47: the magic number of yes votes to pass constitutional reform

Forty seven. Let me repeat this number again: 47. That is the minimum number of yes votes required in the Legislative Council to pass any constitutional reform plan that will give Hong Kong universal suffrage.

Many Hong Kong people, especially among our young activists whose souls burn with fire for true democratic freedom, don't know this number. They should and they must. The mere knowledge of this number, I believe, will instil a sense of much-needed realism in their struggle for democracy. Shouting slogans, skirmishing with police and throwing objects at the chief executive may appeal to the senses, but in the end, you have to bargain and negotiate, and that takes brain work.

I know many of us don't know, care or take the Basic Law seriously. But know this. Our mini-constitution requires a two-thirds majority in the legislature for any full democratic transition. Given the council's current 70 seats, this means at least 47 votes.

It's assumed any government blueprint will have the support of a majority of the 43 lawmakers outside the pan-democratic camp. But no pan-dems would dare cross over, as the Democratic Party did in 2010, and risk being accused of being traitors to Hong Kong. So any government plan that cannot assure majority backing from the pan-dems would most likely fail.

To drive a hard bargain, young activists should determine what their democratic elders are prepared to give, and what their baseline is. It will, therefore, help if the public have some blueprints for the 2017 chief executive election and the 2016 Legco election, with indications on how to achieve a fully elected Legco in 2020 or thereafter. They will help us determine how realistic the prospect is of passage in Legco.

I would dearly love to see some blueprints from the government and the pan-dems, maybe even the pro-Beijing parties - just something from somebody! How will candidates for the chief executive post be chosen? Is Legco to remain unicameral or to become bicameral, with a ceremonial or advisory upper chamber to house the rotten boroughs of functional constituencies?

These are the kind of questions young people should ask besides hitting the streets.


Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Meanwhile, we should acknowledge the courage of our young people and encourage them to keep the drive for universal suffrage alive. As for a blueprint, it should be One Register Voter-One Vote for the election of the Chief Executive, and One Register Voter-One Vote for the election of Legco members. I don't see why Hongkongers should put up with a "ceremonial or advisory upper chamber to house the rotten boroughs of functional constituencies". I hope this suggestion puts to rest the nonsense that people in favor of universal suffrage have nothing concrete to put forward. Cheers.
"I don't see why Hongkongers should put up with a 'ceremonial or advisory upper chamber to house the rotten boroughs of functional constituencies'. "
Do you think the functional constituencies will vote to eliminate their own positions without some kind of face saving figurehead position? Don't be so naive.
I wonder such useful information and advice would reach the young man in the picture? How many people actually read newspaper daily? SCMP, in particular? If they do, I am sure they wouldn’t miss My Take particularly.


SCMP.com Account