My Take

Reform Legco's functional constituencies

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 4:37am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 4:37am

Two government reports on electoral reforms offer no specific proposals, but purport only to provide summaries of public views. But what they don't say offers clues as to what Hong Kong and mainland officials are aiming at. I am afraid it does not augur well for a truly representative nominating committee for chief executive candidates.

Many people realise public nomination is a non-starter. That's why many pan-democrats' fight for it is both quixotic and counterproductive. The reports are not wrong to minimise a method that has almost zero chance of being realised, even though it has been the focal point of the most confrontational activists.

But many people still hope to have a nominating committee that is democratically representative enough to satisfy any reasonable definition of universal suffrage. This is a fight worth fighting and the reports should set alarm bells ringing.

Notice there are five sections on the method of choosing the chief executive in 2017 and only one about forming the Legislative Council in 2016.

"We need to focus on reforming the chief executive election because it involves complicated procedures, but there is no need to amend the 2016 election method," Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said yesterday. Accordingly, he made the same recommendation to the standing committee of the National People's Congress.

The stated rationale is that the chief executive election is more important. But the unstated reason is that by not reforming the Legco election, the government can keep the existing functional constituencies largely intact. This is clearly what Beijing wants.

Why preserve those rotten boroughs if the goal is to achieve a fully elected Legco in 2020? The simple answer is that the functional constituencies are needed to preserve their own membership in the future nominating committee.

It would be exceedingly odd to get rid of many if not most of them in Legco while allowing those trades to continue representation in the committee. But their heavy presence risks undermining the committee's legitimacy. The real - and realistic - democratic fight should be to dilute their presence and influence in the nominating committee and Legco.