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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 6:31pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 December, 2013, 4:30am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 December, 2013, 4:30am

Beijing is right on nominating committee

Oh dear, let the tedium start. The public consultation on electoral reform has finally started. There will be lots of self-righteous and indignant claims and counter-claims over the next five months. But beyond that, Hong Kong really only has two broad choices.

(1) You can insist on public nomination as advocated by many, but not all, pan-democrats. This means anyone can nominate anyone, but any nominee for the chief executive post can only run if they get a specific number of supporters from the public. A majority of Hong Kong people support it, if a recent University of Hong Kong survey is right.

(2) Or you can accept the necessity for a nominating committee - and debate who should sit in it - to pick the candidates. This is clearly spelled out in Article 45 of the Basic Law.

Most people who read the Basic Law without preconceptions would think 1 and 2 are not compatible. Logic and common sense say if you have public nomination, there is simply no need or place for a nominating committee. On this specific point, the Hong Kong and central governments are right: 1 is unconstitutional under the Basic Law. Some pan-dems like Occupy Central's Benny Tai Yiu-ting insist 1 and 2 are compatible. Tai phoned Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung during a radio interview yesterday to say he is writing a paper to prove he has squared the circle. Well, lawyers argue for any position they happen to advocate. Tai's HKU colleague and former law dean Albert Chen Hung-yee and Ronny Tong Ka-wah, the Civic Party lawmaker, rather think not, and they are right.

The main reason some pan-dems argue for the compatibility of 1 and 2 is because they want to maintain the fiction that they are working within the constitutional framework of the Basic Law. But, if they are honest, they should just say: screw the nominating committee. In that case, they can either demand the government request the standing committee of the National People's Congress to amend the article. They can also protest indefinitely or seek the overthrow of the existing political order. None of these routes will get anywhere. But maintaining a fiction is no way to fight a battle.

Why would Beijing give in when they are right in principle and have the power to impose that right?


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Dai Muff
I don't see much that Mr Lo does not think Beijing is right about.
Mr. Lo is right about one thing: Beijing does have the right to impose. So we shall see whether all her flowery talk is just cheap lip service, when push comes to shove.
However, with just about everything else, Mr. Lo is barking up the wrong tree. It starts with the presumption that Basic Law is somehow unassailable. Again, we're not talking about laws of physics here. It is a "mini-constitution" written for HK people by someone other than HK people. There is nothing written in stone there. To hide under the excuse of "well, Basic Law says we must do such and such" is to acknowledge the paucity of logic and common sense behind one's position and argument.
Anyway, here is an easy way to "square that circle". Have the public determine who can stand for the position of 'CE nominee-elect'. Then, among those who stand for the position, have the public select who the 'CE nominee-elect' will be. This 'CE nominee-elect' can then be presented to Mr. Lo's precious "nomination committee", who will be given the weighty and challenging responsibility of nominating the 'CE nominee-elect' for the position of CE. That way, HKers are happy, and even the esteemed nominating committee (and by extension Beijing who pulls their strings) will be ecstatic because Basic Law was followed to a T. Now, of course, the "nomination committee" will only be rubber-stamping. But come now, we wouldn't want that committee to function beyond its capacity, now would we?
Oh and btw, how on earth does Mr. Lo conclude that Beijing is "right in principle"? What principle is he talking about? And how are they right about it? It seems like the makings of a circular argument: Beijing wrote Basic Law, and now they want to impose it, and therefore they are right to do so, because what they want to impose is spelled out in the law they wrote.
That the Basic Law is glaringly different the arrangement promised under One Country, Two Systems is something that ought to be remedied without delay. What needs to happen is for Basic Law to be amended such that it matches the spirit of 1C2S, since in its current form it is tantamount to willful fraud and deceit.

In business, this is equivalent to a bait-and-switch.
The Chinese constitution ensures the right to petition, a right that certainly should extend to Hong Kong people under the Basic Law, which, mainland scholars always assure us, is subject to the Chinese constitution. So if hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people petition the Nominating Committee and/or the NPC Standing Committee to nominate a particular candidate so the people can vote on him or her, how can this be "unconstitutional"? Of course, the Nominating Committee or NPC might refuse to accept the petition, or refuse to nominate the candidate, but nothing stands in the way of such a "peoples petition" process being done by parties and candidates independent of government. And even Beijing might hesitate to ignore a petition with a million supporters. Follow this with an Occupy Central action if Beijing or the Nominating Committee refused the petition and all those who signed it would be more likely to support that action. This might be a better way to ensure fair nomination than the current Occupy Central plan to be held during the consultation process.
If Beijing wants to sell to the Taiwanese, they are shooting themselves in the foot every step of the way with their horrendous performance in Hong Kong. The Taiwanese are not stupid, I believe they will realize that the devil is in the details.

With the exception of diplomatic affairs and national defense, Hong Kong was promised, under 1C2S, autonomy in all areas including, but not limited to, the judiciary and courts of last resort, immigration and customs, public finance, and currencies. It is evident that this is not the case. If it were, why does the government state that there is no way to amend the number of one-way permits issued? Isn't that part of immigration control?

When someone tells you that you will have autonomy to run a city state, any reasonable person would take that to mean the selection of the head of the city state would be decided by the citizens of the city state without outside interference.

In short, there is a glaring difference between what was promised in principle and what was actually implemented in the final version of the Basic Law. Moreover, there is an even larger gap between what was promised in principle and what is actually happening, particularly after the “interpretations” of the NPCSC.
The sad truth is that Beijing holds all the cards as to the Basic Law. It is just a law that can be changed. If they don't think they can get what they want by manipulating the existing situation you can rest assured they will change the law to make sure the deck remains stacked. Why would they not? I can think of only one reason: to continue to try to sucker the Taiwanese people into thinking that Beijing's promises as to self-determination/autonomy can be believed. So it goes.
Clear and reasonable exposition
I’d only add that we should heed
吳康民 in mingpao today
Right on!


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