My Take

Pan-democrats appear all mixed-up over 2017 election

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 September, 2013, 2:45am

Let me see if I understand the latest tussle between the liaison office and the Civic Party. It's another political storm in the teacup but it does show how confusing and obscurantist some pan-democrats can be.

The party is upset Beijing's top man in Hong Kong, Zhang Xiaoming , has shot down its proposal of a civil or open nomination for the chief executive in the 2017 election. The plan is to allow contenders to run for the top post if they obtain a minimum proportion of nominations open to all 3.5 million local voters.

This is an idea the Civic Party shares with the activist group Scholarism. It's effectively to make every voter in Hong Kong a member of the nominating committee. This will, of course, do away with such a committee, as required by the Basic Law, in all but name. So it was a foregone conclusion Zhang would reject it.

There is another Civic Party proposal, to let the committee do its own nominations while the rest of the city's voters will nominate their own candidates. I think we can safely say Zhang will pooh-pooh that idea too. Even Civic Party chief Audrey Eu Yuet-mee has said open nomination may not be a bottom line if it does not have enough public support. In any case, those ideas are just two among several proposals the pan-dems have come up with, some of which will even conflict with unrestricted open nomination. So I don't understand all the criticism now directed at Zhang.

Pan-democrat and academic Ma Ngok said Zhang's statement was part of a propaganda ploy. You may say Beijing is taking a hard line, but it has been honest about its intentions and bottom line - a nominating committee has to be "broadly representative" but potential candidates will have to be screened.

By contrast, we get conflicting messages and ideas from the pan-democratic camp, especially the Civic Party. Just now, the Alliance for True Democracy, of which the Civic Party is a core member, has proposed that seats on the nominating committee be determined according to parties' share of the vote in the 2016 Legislative Council poll. It's not a bad idea, but you can easily see how it will conflict with open nomination for everyone.

Pan-dems, message discipline please! Voters get confused easily.