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  • Jul 12, 2014
  • Updated: 1:25pm
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Hongkongers must find common ground in search for democracy

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 December, 2013, 4:30am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 December, 2013, 11:30am

The long-awaited consultation on electoral reform has finally been launched by the government. While the 57-page document is short of specific proposals, it outlines key issues pivotal to the implementation of universal suffrage for the chief executive election in 2017 and the scope of the revamp for the legislature in 2016. The content is comprehensive and well thought out. It is in the community's interest to examine the issues thoroughly and come up with arrangements acceptable to Hongkongers and Beijing.

The government's pledge to adopt an open mind at this stage is to be welcomed. But, understandably, any proposals that do not conform to the legal framework laid down by the Basic Law and the National People's Congress Standing Committee do not stand a good chance of being approved. The task force headed by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has sensibly avoided shooting down popular but unconstitutional proposals at this stage. But, as the chief secretary said, the government has a duty to speak out when discussions deviate from that basic framework. What is or isn't acceptable has to be made clear.

Criticism that the consultation document is loaded with "leading" questions is not surprising. After all, the detailed proposals to be put forward at the second stage need to have a firm legal foothold. That explains why the concept of public nominations for the chief executive, an idea criticised for bypassing the nominating committee stipulated in the Basic Law, is only briefly mentioned in the document.

Like it or not, public nomination will continue to be a focus. But as Lam said, dwelling on proposals outside the framework would be a waste of time. Discussion of proposals that stand a good chance of being approved will be more fruitful.

Lam is right in saying that differences can be narrowed step by step and consensus forged bit by bit. But far from what she described as "entering into a straight road towards universal suffrage", the five-month consultation is just the beginning of a long-running battle. Unfortunately, the current antagonistic atmosphere does not help the way forward.

For universal suffrage to be implemented in 2017 and 2020, it is imperative for different parties to set aside their differences and find common ground to move ahead. Confrontation should be avoided; compromise is essential.

The public has waited far too long for democracy. We can ill-afford missing the opportunity to turn the goal into reality.

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This article is now closed to comments

ianson
This is utter rubbish about consensus. No consensus is necessary. Consensus is just another way of saying "Don't rock the boat", "Toe the line". It's a total fantasy to suggest that there is anything that can be agreed by all sides. The most favoured formula that meets the Basic Law's democratic stipulations must be adopted no matter how hard Beijing screams and yelps about blending into its hegemonistic scheme.
caractacus
Winston Churchill said:
"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
and-
upon learning his party had lost the 1945 General election: -
""They have a perfect right to kick me out. That is democracy".
and-
"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."
One cannot envy Carrie Lam the poisoned chalice she has been given.
singleline
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881, Scottish satirical writer and historian) once said that 'I do not believe in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.'
Concerning Hong Kong's coming consultation on electoral reform, I think Carlyle is definitely wrong.
(This Victorian historian called economics 'the dismal science".)
321manu
It's open consultation, except certain things can't be talked about, and certain things won't be accepted, but they aren't even prepared to tell you exactly what those are. So talk away, and they'll tell you after the fact if certain ideas are non-starters. But as long as Beijing is happy with what you propose, you are truly and utterly free to propose anything under the sun.
Yep. For sure. This is precisely how democracy works. With such a foolproof mechanism, I can't envision any scenario whereby HK does not end up with a 'truly democratic' system. And of course, 'truly democratic' will be as defined by Beijing, cuz Beijing is what comes to mind when one thinks about experts in democracy.
sudo rm -f cy
Be careful, not everyone understands sarcasm.
johnyuan
Despite being a political appointee, Carrie Lam's experience is from being a civil servant. A civil servant to present something as important as the election consultation, for that matter even less important, doesn’t appeal to me. Why do you think a careered civil servant official knows better than people who has conviction in civic matters and without a big check every month? Hong Kong should have politicians to deal with politics including government’s proposed policy. Let all the civil servants handle the execution.
.
I am not really interested in what Lam has to say.
 
 
 
 
 

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