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  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 4:40am
CommentInsight & Opinion
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Consensus is the key to achieving meaningful electoral reform for 2017

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 February, 2014, 2:56am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 February, 2014, 4:40am

Conventional wisdom says spring cannot be far when the Lunar New Year begins. The new season symbolises hope, harmony and opportunity. Unfortunately, the political landscape remains wintry as ever. The ongoing public consultation on political reform does not seem to have fostered any consensus. Informed discussions have been drowned out by noises and gestures. Beijing and the pan-democrats are poles apart on how universal suffrage is to be implemented. Some lawmakers plan to boycott a spring reception hosted by Beijing's Liaison Office. The antagonistic atmosphere does not bode well for a breakthrough in the coming year.

With another three months of the consultation still to go, the government has stepped up the propaganda war against the pan-democrats' proposal of allowing direct nomination of a chief executive contestant with a specified number of voters. In a recent article published in this newspaper, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung argues that the Basic Law makes it clear that the nominating committee is the only body with the power to put forward a candidate. Although he maintains that the view is not necessarily the government's final position, it is the clearest indication yet that the so-called public nomination is unlikely to be accepted by Beijing.

That the justice secretary has weighed into the debate at this stage is understandable. The government may think dwelling on proposals inconsistent with the Basic Law will lead nowhere. However, the pan-democrats remain unconvinced. They insist that their proposal does not restrict the nominating committee from putting forward other candidates.

Politically, reforms that do not conform to the parameters laid down by the mini-constitution and the National People's Congress Standing Committee do not stand a good chance of being adopted. That said, it does not mean the government can impose electoral arrangements. The pan-democrats command more than one-third of the Legco votes and hold the power to veto any reform. Yuen may be trying to manage public expectations when he says the proposals might not be perfect. Ultimately, the package has to be acceptable to all sides.

For progress to be made, compromise is essential. It would be unhelpful if both sides hold onto their ideals. Difficult choices have to be made, or the opportunity to turn the goal of universal suffrage into reality will be missed.

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the sun also rises
there won't be any so-called consensus if our upcoming so-called consultation of the electoral reform has to be within the frame set by the Beijing authorities:the candidates should be loving Hong Kong (implying obedient citizens who never criticize the administration) and patriotic (which implies that they should love the Communist Party instead of their motherland); and there will be a screening mechanism to screen out the unfavourable elements from the pan-democratic camp or nomination of candidates should be carried out through the undemocratic so-called Nomination Committee (similar to the former Election Committee in formation). Right ?
lexishk
Harmony, understanding, consensus, obedience, blah blah blah
blue
As long as all directly elected lawmakers and district councilors are included in the NC, then I think we have a practical solution that should satisfy all parties and doesn't require public nomination.
321manu
The HK government is controlled by a bunch of Beijing stooges. And Hkers are restricted by a "mini constitution" that they didn't write. So it's no wonder that the pro-CCP types repeatedly hide behind Basic Law as though Newton discovered it himself. At least they've spared people the nauseating attempt at suggesting that their position is actually good for HKers...cuz that would really be rich.
Compromise is a terrific product of negotiations held in good faith. But when the CCP position is "my way or the highway", there's not a lot of room for compromise there. 'you can elect your CE any way you want, as long as it's the way I want'...yeah, these 5 months are really going to be productive.
ianson
So you're saying a non-democratic "consensus" election plan has to be passed by Legco. Brilliant. And then you have the bulk of 7 million citizens up in arms over being robbed of the 1984 promise. What have you achieved? Mayhem. So get smart and face the reality that "consensus" (which means compromising with the CCP bandits) would sound a death knell to Hong Kong stability.
And, by the way, stop pandering to the CCP.
XYZ
Consensus has already been achieved. Hong Kong people have expressed that consensus repeatedly and emphatically. That consensus is:
.
1. Any HK citizen may run for the office of Chief Executive.
.
2. The Chief Executive shall be elected via one-person, one-vote universal suffrage.
.
3. Beijing retains the power to appoint or not appoint the winner of the election.
.
lucifer
How many of these dumb editorials are you going to publish? How do you get a consensus on democratic elections if the premise starts with elections that are not democratic at all. I find it difficult to understand where you think one starts compromising when as it stands, an extra territorial power will create a screening committee for potential candidates? This is just not workable.

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