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  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 2:02am
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Legco lunch with Beijing envoy Zhang Xiaoming good start to democracy plan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 4:42am

For the first time, lawmakers from across Hong Kong's diverse political spectrum have sat down to lunch with Beijing's top envoy in the city, Zhang Xiaoming. The topic discussed was the one that ultimately defines the "one country, two systems" concept - the goal under the Basic Law of universal suffrage. The ice has been broken. The way ahead may be uncharted and the omens not all positive. But the waters must not be allowed to freeze over again if Beijing and pro-democracy forces are to narrow their differences enough for there to be any prospect of a consensus on universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election.

The lunch in the Legislative Assembly dining hall was described as a social gathering by the host, Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. It was indeed congenial, given the pan-democrats' strained relations with Beijing. But such an unprecedented gathering had to have political overtones. Zhang got down to business in a pre-lunch speech.

He made it clear Beijing has boundaries when it comes to the composition and role of the nominating committee - the key institution in the implementation of universal suffrage for the election of chief executive. He hinted there should be screening of candidates - anathema to many in his audience, but consistent with statements by top officials that people who oppose Beijing could not rule Hong Kong.

Prompted by a gift from a lawmaker of a boat made of a sieve, he said conventional wisdom was that a sieve could screen out unwanted seeds.

Zhang also sounded a warning if the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement in support of democracy should implement its ultimate plan to paralyse the central business district with a 10,000-strong crowd. It would be a disastrous contravention of the law, he said, with lasting consequences.

Zhang told lawmakers the central government was sincere about introducing universal suffrage in Hong Kong so long as it followed the path laid down in the Basic Law and the 2007 ruling by the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

Above all, universal suffrage depends on trust and consensus. With just four years to go, there is a need for early dialogue on the electoral arrangements. Zhang said he welcomed further dialogue and expressed a preference for meetings with small groups in future. The democrats should seize any opportunity. The two sides have much to discuss.

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the sun also rises
it is pleasant to learn that the Liaison Office head,Mr.Zhang is willing to have dialogues with pan-demnocratic lawmakers in future on a small group basis.A good beginning is the success of half the task--as the proverb says. Our democrats should seize any opportunities to have dialogues with Mr.Zhang who appears friendly and open-minded,though maintaining the principle of the Central authorities--his duty of course. The two sides have much to discuss and time is running short,only four more years to go.
johnrai7
I think Beijing wants to trade, one major price is Article 23, but who cares HK ppl are smarter ;)
jay.lamb.9400
"Universal suffrage depends on trust and consensus"! But the pandems don't even trust their mothers!!
the sun also rises
as the bottom-line of our upcoming universal suffrage in 2017 was stated clearly in mr.Zhang Xiao-ming's pre-lunch speech yesterday,we Hong Kong people now have to be more pragmatic and practical -------striving for the composition /formation of the Nominating Committee to be as democratic as possible though the members of it might probably not be elected through 'one man,one vote' mechanism to elect our chief executive who will thus be more accountable and responsible to his voters ---the majority of Hong Kong residents.
blue
I agree with silent is the night. If the nominating committee includes all directly elected legislators and district councilors in addition to the "usual" Pro Beijing Pro Business and Professional sub sectors, and the nominating threshold for CE is 150 nominations or lower then we'll have a nominating committee that is better than the 2012 nominating committee which nominated Albert Ho to be the candidate for CE.

If all Beijing can offer is a nominating committee with more stringent requirements than previously in order to screen out politicians like Albert Ho, then that will be unacceptable to the HK people and the CE will have an even weaker mandate than presently.

The voter turnout would be awful, and that's under the assumption that such a lousy political reform bill would gain two thirds majority in the Legco which it surely would fail to obtain.
johnh
The only way to prevent communist tanks and propaganda from running over Hong Kong, is to have FULL universal suffrage. The communist party is scared of democracy because they know once people get the right to vote, they will NEVER give that up! And other cities in mainland will want to follow suite. The economy in China is slowing, the people will be restless, and the officials will stop at nothing to prevent their communist party with all their mistresses & cronies from being overthrown by a democratic populace. Hong Kong never give up!!
 
 
 
 
 

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