• Tue
  • Dec 30, 2014
  • Updated: 12:19am
CommentInsight & Opinion

Hong Kong must accept basic realities to achieve universal suffrage in 2017

Carrie Lam says without an acceptance of the political realities and a return to the legal framework of the Basic Law, universal suffrage for the chief executive election in 2017 may well remain an unfulfilled dream

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 March, 2014, 3:18am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 March, 2014, 3:18am

We are now halfway through the five-month consultation on constitutional development. The three members of the task force have pressed on with gathering the views of different sectors. In the feedback received so far, a number of commonly held views are notable.

First, it is the common aspiration of Hong Kong people to see the timely implementation of universal suffrage in the election of the chief executive through "one person, one vote" in 2017. Nobody wants a stalemate in constitutional development.

Second, subscribing to the rule of law as a core value of Hong Kong, the public generally agrees that constitutional development must proceed in accordance with the Basic Law and the relevant interpretation and decisions of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

Third, many people agree that the chief executive must be someone who loves both our country and Hong Kong. The requirements of the Basic Law make this clear, to ensure that the person will faithfully exercise the constitutional powers and discharge the duties associated with this important position.

Fourth, given the Basic Law's stipulation that the chief executive shall be selected by universal suffrage upon nomination by a nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures, the community should conduct serious discussions about the composition of this committee, the nominating procedures, the number of candidates to be nominated, and so on.

At present, the major difference in public opinion lies in the nominating procedures. Quite a number of people consider that candidates should be nominated solely by the nominating committee as required by the Basic Law. Some bodies, however, have suggested alternative proposals such as "civic nomination", "nomination by political parties" and "three-track nomination". There are also views suggesting there should be no "screening", but without clearly defining or explaining what "screening" means. The views of political parties and political organisations at this time are rather polarised. Many are reiterations of their stance or slogan-type statements, lacking substantive supporting arguments or giving little consideration to the principles and provisions relating to the political structure as stipulated in the Basic Law.

I am genuinely concerned that if people retain their own stance, refusing to return to the legal framework of the Basic Law or accept the political reality, universal suffrage for the 2017 election will become nothing but a castle in the air. And once again, our democratic process will reach an impasse.

The task force has been emphasising that, when we discuss the method for selecting the chief executive by universal suffrage, we should consider thoroughly the feasibility of the proposals from legal, political and operational perspectives simultaneously. On the legal side, the secretary for justice has already shared his legal viewpoint on whether the proposals of "civic nomination" and "nomination by political parties" are consistent with Article 45 of the Basic Law.

I wish to share my views from a political perspective. Any proposal for implementing universal suffrage must be in strict compliance with the four major principles on constitutional development under the Basic Law, namely meeting the interests of different sectors of society, facilitating the development of the capitalist economy, providing gradual and orderly progress, and being appropriate to the actual situation in Hong Kong. For example, the Basic Law says that the composition of the nominating committee must be "broadly representative" so as to realise the principle of "meeting the interests of different sectors of society" with regard to the design of the political structure. From this, a nominating committee modelled on the framework of the broadly representative four-sector Election Committee currently in place will stand a better chance of being accepted in both the legal and political context.

As for the nomination procedures, Article 45 clearly states that the power to nominate candidates is vested in the nominating committee. Any proposal bypassing the committee or undermining its substantive nomination power will not be acceptable in the realm of law. In fact, the Legislative Council, the chief executive, the Hong Kong government and the Standing Committee are all required to act according to law.

On the political side, any proposal that is legally controversial is unlikely to be passed by a two-thirds majority in Legco and obtain the consent of the chief executive and the approval of the Standing Committee. At this juncture of the consultation, we should have practical discussions based on the provisions of the Basic Law, instead of wasting time and effort in making proposals over which a consensus is hard to achieve. This is the right way to implement universal suffrage for the chief executive election.

In light of the prevailing situation, the outlook for the successful implementation of universal suffrage for the chief executive election is not very bright, though the prospect is not yet completely bleak. I firmly believe that the wider community supports achieving the goal of universal suffrage for 2017 according to law. I also believe most political parties do not want to see a failure to attain the goal. Implementing universal suffrage for the 2017 election is a big step forward along our road to democracy. This is not only a solemn commitment of the central authorities to Hong Kong, but also the aspiration shared by seven million Hong Kong people.

With just over two months to go before the end of the consultation, the task force has a duty to give timely advice. I would like to urge all sectors of the community to initiate more constructive discussions, in particular, more comprehensive and thorough deliberations on specific issues such as the composition of the nominating committee, the nomination procedures and the electoral methods, so as to identify a proposal for universal suffrage that complies with the Basic Law and best meets the actual situation of Hong Kong. We must not let this opportunity slip away.

It is my earnest hope that all parties across the political spectrum will bear Hong Kong's long-term interests in mind, apply their political wisdom and seek a consensus through open and rational communication with people of different views. Only through this would our five million eligible voters have a chance to elect the next chief executive in 2017 and celebrate the important milestone in the democratic development of Hong Kong.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is chief secretary

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14

This article is now closed to comments

ognevodd
Basically Carrie says "don't even dream of it", and it's obvious there is absolutely no way Beijing would accept anything else, even if protesters storm the government and there's blood in the streets.
But let us be honest with ourselves and think for a bit: do Hongkongers actually deserve universal suffrage? The people who are so narrow-minded, racist, conservative, uncreative, snobbish, hopelessly outdated, selfish, ignorant, materialistic, primitive, biased, poorly educated, hypocritical, self-righteous, Hongkong-hating, and unsophisticated - do they really deserve and need freedom and voting? Is it in any way different from allowing Mainland Chinese farmers and those guys you see in LV shops to vote? Is it in any way different from allowing Filipinos to vote, who happily elected a ridiculuous movie star as their president once they could vote?
Think about it.
nmp_inc
The HKSAR Basic Law does not codify the mainland principle of "Patriots (only) ruling Hong Kong." The assertion in your essay that someone who is opposed to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cannot or would not "faithfully exercise the constitutional powers and discharge the duties associated with this important position" is an OPINION manifesting fear not fact or LAW. Essentially, by trying frame the disagreements in society as simply about the formation of the nomination committee you and others are attempting to evade the basic promise of universal suffrage as well as the rights guaranteed in the Basic Law. The Basic Law provides that any one meeting the demographic, residency, and citizenship requirements can stand for election as chief executive - not just communists or the ones "trusted" by them.
Obviously, as witnessed by the contemporary political situation in HK which continues to deteriorate, after three different "patriotic" chief executives and nearly 17 years as a Special Administrative Region that "patriot principle" is not working. No one is happy. Neither Beijing or Hong Kong. Having political loyalty or 'trustworthiness' as the central authorities envision it does not produce the caliber of politician needed to govern HK satisfactorily - for Hongkongers or the CCP. Either find a better caliber of 'patriot" or give up the ghost.
hlu
seriously, does china really care about hk?
321manu
This is the problem with Ms. Lam, just as it is with Mr. Yuen. They treat Basic Law as some unassailable, incontrovertible, natural law. Which of course it isn't. Then they choose to focus on one article of said law, to the exclusion of all others. And then they forget that Basic Law was not drafted by Hkers. Then they conveniently overlook the fact that this law made by outsiders might not adequately represent "the actual situation in Hong Kong." Mr. Yuen is on record as wanting to very narrowly interpret Basic Law, based on what is expressly stated alone. Then certainly, even from a rigid legal perspective, he can't ignore the express requirement to account for "the actual situation in Hong Kong". And that 'actual situation' seems to be that voting for people Beijing nominates is not really what most Hkers seem to want. The Beijing types all seem to forget about this provision. It is a grand exercise in selective reading and selective thinking, Beijing style.
And what about representing the "interests of different sectors of society"? Sure, there are 'special interest' groups in those august committees right now. But how about the interests of those not in one of the preferred special interest groups? I would submit that the size of that sector of society dwarfs all the other sectors combined. Why should that sector be kept silent in the nomination process?
Ms. Lam speaks of HK's interests. It would be nice to see her act upon that, and not just Beijing's.
ianson
Big Lie. The EC was never "broadly representative". It was broadly selective. It is utter rubbish to suggest that the term "broadly representative" calls for sectorisation of the community. Broadly representative means what it says, i.e. a body which reflects the whole populace. And the Basic Law says it, anyway: it must be democratic.
Lam is brilliant at the corrupt CCP propaganda method.
sudo rm -f cy
Basically, "you can have any electoral system you want, as long as our man wins."
Hum-Balang
I for one believe all our CEs have the best of hearts and intentions- If anything Tung was assailed by insufficient briefings of his post-handover administration which didn’t explain to him Singaporean-housing solution transplanted to HK turned him into public enemy No.1 of the tycoons; Tsang tried his best to prop up HK in the apocalyptical post-911 & SAR only he favoured the property-tycoons too much by halting all land sales which inflamed the public; CY Leung consistently showed his eagerness to handle all freshpoints and all hot issues in Hong Kong, give the man a break!
.
But with every passing day the 1C-2system of CCP and HKSAR is snubbing the USA Imperialism aka democracy that it is the only viable system in the history of politics. USA engineered the current monetary, trade and financial systems we gratefully call progressive up to the 2008 GFC. The Yanks are obviously in crisis mode and doing everything they can to topple China or at least delay its resurgence.
.
Where better to start than HK and Taiwan, with the pocket-change of a typical USA presidential campaign- the Kochs and Cargills can buy the entire pan-democratic camp and several media to stoke the unrest : all HK people truly wants universal suffrage and want to elect their CEs! Talk to the HK folks in the street and see if they care!!
Ant Lee
Obviously not
ognevodd
Your username is subvertive, which is against the law. Or do you not love your country?
Ant Lee
Realities are how people make it. If people just "accept", there would never be western civilisation.

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