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  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 4:14am
Occupy Central
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Moderate voices can still prevail on universal suffrage

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 3:55am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 8:22am

Those looking forward to an early consensus on political reform must be disappointed by recent developments. In a move that is likely to deepen the current divide, members of Occupy Central are asking people to choose among three electoral proposals that do not stand a real chance of being approved. This prompted calls for moderate pan-democrats to renew their strategy by breaking up with their radical allies. The government, on the other hand, is not prepared to entertain the idea of so-called public nominations in the next round of consultation. It also stepped up attacks against the civil disobedience campaign and told teachers and schools not to encourage pupils to take part.

The tough rhetoric against Occupy Central is not surprising. Tasked with the controversial goal of pushing for democracy by paralysing the business district with a 10,000-strong crowd, the campaign has not been well received in a city known for its rule of law. It may have an appeal to those who share its political ideals, but the involvement of radical groups means it could be hijacked and turn violent. That is why the education chief has not shied away from warning teachers and pupils of the danger of taking part, even if this invites attacks of putting pressure on them. The guidelines to be issued by the government will bring relief to parents who oppose the campaign.

There are valid reasons not to dwell on proposals that insist on the public right to name chief executive candidates in the next stage. The idea has been deemed by Beijing to be inconsistent with the Basic Law, which says nominations shall be made by a broadly representative committee. As public nomination was fully debated in the first consultation and does not stand a chance of being passed, it makes sense to focus on options that are legally sound and politically viable in future.

Whether the activists' "civil referendum" next month will draw a high turnout remains unclear. But it is not going to narrow the political divide. As Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said, the three options shortlisted for the vote do not give Hongkongers a real choice. Regardless of the turnout, the outcome will not help find a way forward.

Consensus does not come from tension and bickering. It is good that some moderate pan-democrats are still united and trying to work out proposals that are democratic and acceptable to Beijing. With pragmatism and determination, universal suffrage is a goal that can be achieved.

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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
I wish people would stop pretending that wanting our government to abide by the Basic Law is somehow "extremist". The government is showing no sign of wanting to abide by Article 39.
"The provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and international labour conventions as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force and shall be implemented through the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region."
Those provisions state: " Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:
(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;
(b) To vote AND TO BE ELECTED at genuine periodic elections which shall be by UNIVERSAL AND EQUAL SUFFRAGE and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors; "
It is not "moderate" to support our government ducking these provisions.
rsallen
Well said. There is nothing "radical" about demanding basic human rights which much of the world takes for granted. This editorial is a disgrace.
321manu
If Carrie Lam and her like-minded "SCMP editorialists" want to know about the choice of Hongkongers, they would do well to familiarize themselves with the HK Transition Project 2014 survey on constitutional reform. It would make for highly enlightening reading for people like them.
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blue
Don't forget that Article 26 of the Basic Law also states "Permanent residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall have the right to vote and the right to stand for election in accordance with law." which is inline with the ICCPR which HK also must abide by in accordance to Article 39.

Public Nomination however does not comply with the Basic Law, but neither does a screening mechanism, as was rightly pointed out by the HK BAR association.

Public nomination is not required in order to meet international standards or to comply with the ICCPR. This was already proven by moderate academics. So yes when framed in that context, advocating public nomination is radical.

However I do think the HK government needs to feel the pressure in order to have the political will to push BJ to allow a political reform package that complies with the ICCPR even if it ultimately doesn't have public nomination.

I think it is encouraging that the government is rejecting proposals such as the DAB's proposal of requiring a 50 percent threshold in the nominating committee. It is also encouraging to see the government making positive comments about adding all directly elected district councilors to the Nominating Committee.

The government needs to continue to be pushed hard to allow part OR all of the Nominating Committee to be directly elected by all registered HK voters. This complies with the Basic Law unlike public nomination and meets democratic procedures.
Dai Muff
double post

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