• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 11:10am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 April, 2013, 3:36am

The better of two undesirable options for 2017 election

You really have to give it to Elsie Leung Oi-sie. Now in semi-retirement, it may be more comfortable for the Beijing loyalist to keep a lower profile and enjoy life. But foolhardiness or dedication to public service seems to compel her to speak up.

Let's not be too tough on the former justice secretary. Her latest statements and those of top mainland officials help spell out Beijing's bottom line on universal suffrage, so we know what's on the cards for Hong Kong.

Hong Kong people have every right to round on her and mainland officials, from President Xi Jinping down. But let's try to understand what they are actually saying first.

Taking all the recent mainland official pronouncements in their totality, Beijing has essentially given us only two choices in the chief executive election in 2017. Neither is palatable.

You either have a nomination committee that will screen out candidates deemed unacceptable to the central government, or Beijing will have a direct veto on any winner deemed unsuitable for the post. Beijing wants to retain both options. The best Hong Kong can get out of the central government is to convince it to give up one option.

However it turns out, every eligible voter will be able to cast a vote according to some sort of compromised "universal" suffrage under the Basic Law. So which option is less inimical to Hong Kong's interests?

Under the first option, you will have a restrictive and democratically questionable nomination committee that will pick out "acceptable" candidates at the outset. This will compromise the legitimacy of the election from the start, though it's still an improvement from last year's chief executive election.

Under the second option, a (hopefully) broadly representative and legitimate committee picks candidates more or less according to Hong Kong people's wishes, but Beijing holds the Sword of Damocles over the winner. This option is clearly preferable, as any election result would be considered legitimate to everyone so long as Beijing did not veto it.

That was what Leung meant when she said Hong Kong people would "not be stupid enough" to pick someone who would compel Beijing to use the sword.


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This article is now closed to comments

hard times !
anyway,this Leung Oi-see better retires than just semi-retires for the well-being of most Hongkongers.She is now just a mouthpiece or tape-recorder of her Beijing master---a loyal servant /slave servant like Qing Dynasty's enouch Li Lin-ying only. She even expressed that Beijing might resort to using force once the 'Occupy Central'movement turns out to be a riot and our anti-riot cops cannot handle it.And she warned Hongkongers not to elect someone who would confront Beijing authorities by demanding,'ending the one-pary rule'---probably from the pan-democrat camp or one who does not 'love the country (the Party in fact) and Hong Kong ( how can it be ?) Both conditions set by Qiao Xiao-yang are too vague and no fixed criteron to judge---no legality at all which Qiao himself (being a self-taught legal expert ) should know !
Look, it might not be nice to come down harshly on Elsie, but she would help matters greatly if she could understand what the promise of universal suffrage in the Basic Law entails.

Universal suffrage does not only consist of the right of all to vote. It also consists of the right of all to run for office. Excluding some from running for office for whatever the reason may be is just not universal suffrage.

But granted, if Beijing wants to have the illusion that they could veto the outcome of a fair and open CE election (your Option 2), then perhaps that is indeed what we should stick to. So we would have an open and fair CE-election, a candidate that is not pro-Beijing wins, and Beijing would then declare the election result invalid, and instead install their own candidate? Is that how such an option would work?

I don't think Beijing would be able to actually pull that off without the need for martial law and Tiananmen-style violence, which is of course an option they can always resort to when all else fails, no matter what the law may say. Given the Article 23 history and the Occupy Central movement, it would seem a tad unrealistic that such a veto would ever be used to overrule the outcome of an otherwise fair election, and to paraphrase Elsie, I'd like to think Hong Kong people are not stupid enough to believe in empty threats.


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