My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 4:28am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 4:28am

Occupy Central provides an invaluable, though inadvertent, service to the Hong Kong electorate


Alex Lo is a senior writer at the South China Morning Post. He writes editorials and the daily “My Take” column on page 2. He also edits the weekly science and technology page in Sunday Morning Post.

I spoke too soon. I take back what I said about Occupy Central.

Despite becoming the hotbed of the most idealistic and extreme of the pro-democracy activists - or because of it - the movement has done an invaluable service to Hong Kong and the advent of universal suffrage, albeit inadvertently.

By the law of unintended consequences, its founder-scholars with their heads full of theories have helped, by default, pick the most promising, creditable and workable election reform proposals. These are not the ones that have been selected from the Scholarism kiddies and the rejectionist-nihilist lawmakers of People Power by a small circle of the movement's 2,000 diehard supporters. All three proposals chosen on Tuesday for an online pseudo-referendum next month include public nomination, which is a non-starter with Beijing and which even the independent Bar Association has rejected as incompatible with the Basic Law.

No, I am referring to the ones that have been rejected or voted down by those same people, the 12 moderate proposals that will appeal to most mainstream voters in Hong Kong and that Beijing and the Leung Chun-ying administration would do well to listen to if we are not to have a complete charade of an election reform. Among these are proposals by Hong Kong 2020, led by former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, and others devised by academics such as law professors Michael Davis and Johannes Chan Man-mun.

They all pass muster with the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Basic Law. Most of them set the numbers of the nominating committee at between 1,200 and 1,800 and give it real autonomous power in selecting chief executive candidates, something insisted upon by Beijing. They also offer a reasonably low threshold for the number of committee members to nominate a candidate, at 12.5 per cent. Their commonalities should give a good guideline to reasonable people beyond the Scylla and Charybdis of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong plan and public nomination.

Thank you, Occupy, for going with the extremes and so unintentionally letting us choose the moderate and reasonable.