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  • Apr 20, 2014
  • Updated: 2:41am
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Hong Kong needs to start talking now about universal suffrage

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 March, 2013, 2:21am

With another four years to go before the city is due to choose its leader by one person, one vote, the government seems to think it is in no hurry to flesh out the 2017 electoral arrangements for public discussion. The question of how to move towards a democratically elected legislature by 2020 appears to be even more remote. However, the recent debate over the need for a screening mechanism for chief executive candidates has fuelled emotions and unnecessary speculation. Some pan-democrats, fearing the ballot will be unfair as a result, have threatened to paralyse the central business district with a premature mass campaign similar to Occupy Wall Street in the United States. It is difficult to see how the prevailing sentiments can give rise to a rational debate on how universal suffrage should be implemented. To avoid further speculation, an early public consultation is advisable.

If the experiences of the electoral reforms in 2007 and 2012 are any reference, reaching a consensus on the way forward is not easy. Universal suffrage for the chief executive and the legislature is certainly an even bigger challenge. The public is justifiably worried that the same "take-it-or-leave it" tactics would be used, allowing them no choice but to swallow a last-minute deal brokered by the government and political parties holding the key votes. If the government is sincere about listening to the people, an early start would be a sensible step.

The Basic Law says the ultimate aim is the selection of the chief executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures. How it will be achieved is naturally a matter of public concern. But the government says only that it will consult at the right time, and is expected to focus on livelihood issues first. The absence of an official proposal allows critics and allies to fill in the gaps. The speculation is regrettable. Guessing what may or may not be implemented is not helpful to an informed debate. Without any details at this stage, it is also premature to assume it would be "fake" universal suffrage and worthy of radical action.

Universal suffrage has far-reaching implications to the city's governance. We could ill-afford putting in place a model unacceptable to Beijing and the Hong Kong people. Like it or not, the pressure for an early consultation has already built up. Further delay is not in our interest.

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the sun also rises
this writer would like to remind all those Hongkongers who favour a universal suffrage to be cautious not to be fooled by faked e-mails (phishing /scam e-mails) sent to you by unknown people once your e-mail address is disclosed publicly and maybe your name too.These nasty guys would try to make use of any means--faked organisation names (such as NEVIGATOR or even HSBC) to trick you to give your username and password of your internet supplier to them or click in a certain button or open an attached file so that they might defunction your e-mail box or even your computer operation. Be cautious once you openly support a geniune universal in 2017 or the 'Occupy Central' Movement. Okay ?
the sun also rises
According to a recent survey(a trusted one),those who favour a western-style democratic system and a geniune universal suffrage in 2017 of our chief executive and in 2020 of our lawmakers about 38% of those respondents while 39% favour closer economic connection with Mainland China---it reflects both our ideals in local politics and pragramtism---economy is paramount. Anyway,without a democratic politcial system, how can we ensure the government (whether here in Hong Kong or on Mainland) will answer to the wishes and longings of her people ? Right ?
the sun also rises
Fully agree that a delay of the consultation on the pattern of our universal suffrage of our chief executive election to be held in 2017 is not in our interest as there will not be ample time for a wide-ranged discussion,not to say a deep and concrete one.As the universal suffrage has far-reaching implications to the governance of our beloved Hong Kong, we certainly could ill-afford putting in place a model unacceptable to Beijing and we Hongkongers ourselves. How to strike a rational balance is a big test/task indeed---------choosing a capable chief executive with integrity and popularity plus acceptable to Beijing authorities is definitely not an easy job nowadays.Right ?
jackblack323
Universal suffrage is crucial to both Hong Kong and Beijing. Taiwan has allowed its citizens to vote for many years now, and the island hasn't fallen into disrepair and anarchy.
The time to begin making preparations is now. When the leaders of Hong Kong make vague announcements and delay the process, these leaders lose credibility. Rumors spread. The Hong Kong people's faith in their appointed officials weakens.
Making preparations now for the 2017 elections will boost confidence in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Beijing's global image will also improve.
ianson
"ill-afford putting in place a model unacceptable to Beijing"??? It's the Basic Law and the deal done to return Hong Kong to mainland control which is the test of acceptability, not what the current crew of Beijing gangsters think of democracy today. Get it clear. Universal suffrage for Hong Kong is the bedrock principle of the 1984 deal. You talk all you like about getting along with Beijing on matters like milk powder and tourist numbers but that is not the approach to use when dealing with the introduction of democracy. And it's time to stop parrotting the government nonsense about "focus on livelihood issues". Heard of the Constitutional Affairs and Mainland Affairs Bureau? What do you think their hundreds are doing every day in their offices? If our government is incapable of dealing with the democracy issue TODAY (not next month, October or 2014), send all of the CMAB people packing and shutter the bureau now. We might as well, Raymond Tam who heads it is RIGHT NOW telling the world (see his Welcome message) how hard he is working on the 2011 District Council election. So I guess he'll be just as hard at work on the 2017 CEO election in 2019.
rpasea
Whatever the final protocol that is agreed for "electing" the next CE, you can be certain of one thing: Beijing will be in control. Elections are fine so long as the desired outcome is assured. Democracy advocates would better spend their time getting rid of functional constituencies and making all Legco members elected thru geographical constituencies. Forget about electing a CE thru true universal suffrage.

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