Up to Legco to work out proposal for 2017 electoral nomination

Frank Ching says rather than wait for Leung to act, legislators should begin to discuss how the 2017 electoral nomination will work

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 1:26am

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has been pilloried for not coming forward with a proposal on how the universal suffrage election in 2017 will be conducted. From a technical standpoint, an electoral reform bill has to be introduced by the government. The Legislative Council will then need to approve it by a two-thirds majority, after which the chief executive will have to give his consent, followed by approval from the central government.

The most difficult part will be getting two-thirds of Legco - or 47 of its 70 legislators - to agree. Both the pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps can veto the other's proposal. What is needed is a compromise on the structure of the nominating committee and how it will make decisions.

Martin Lee Chu-ming, founding chairman of the Democratic Party, put forward the idea of the nominating committee endorsing five candidates, at least one of whom, presumably, would be a democrat. Others have proposed even more nominations, to ensure a democratic candidate.

So far, however, no one has proposed how the nominating committee itself should be set up.

When the National People's Congress Standing Committee decided in 2007 to allow universal suffrage in 2017, it said that the nominating committee "may be formed with reference to the current provisions regarding the Election Committee".

The current Election Committee comprises four sectors, roughly corresponding to business, the professions, labour and social services, and politicians, each with 300 members.

Qiao Xiaoyang , chairman of the NPC's Law Committee, has said that the nominating committee should likewise comprise four sectors, but the specific composition could be adjusted.

Low Chee Keong, a professor in the school of accountancy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has proposed a model that shrinks three of the four sectors while expanding the fourth, which includes members of Legco, the NPC and district councils, but excludes those of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who are appointed, not elected.

Hopefully, the merits of his proposal will be discussed by the public and lawmakers. The expansion of the elected representation is a clear advantage - the question is, does it go far enough?

Low doesn't discuss how the nominating committee will make decisions. Currently, the election committee's nominations are made by a certain number of members acting jointly, with each member able to nominate just one candidate.

The committee, however, is meant to act as a whole and nominate "a certain number of candidates". It remains to be seen how this will work.

We don't have to wait for Leung to act before discussing political reform. The ball is in our court. In particular, it is in Legco's court. In time, hopefully, a proposal will emerge that can gain the support of 47 legislators. That must be our goal.

Frank Ching is a Hong Kong-based writer and commentator. frank.ching@scmp.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FrankChing1