• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 11:29pm
Universal Suffrage
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Imperfect electoral model is still a step forward

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 September, 2014, 3:40am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 September, 2014, 9:53am

In a controversial ruling delivered in Beijing yesterday, the National People's Congress Standing Committee set out a stringent framework for electing Hong Kong's chief executive in 2017. True, the arrangements are not as democratic as many would have liked. But the resolution made by the highest state organ is constitutionally binding on Hong Kong. For one person, one vote to be achieved, the city has no choice but to follow the rules. Imperfect as it is, the model is still a step forward. It is in the city's interest to adopt the change and strive for further improvements in future.

Those who have been fighting for free democratic elections are understandably outraged by the ruling, which mandates a nomination threshold of over 50 per cent from a committee that dovetails the existing 1,200-member panel to choose the chief executive. Pan-democrats branded the system as fake universal suffrage, saying it was designed to screen out hopefuls Beijing dislikes, and does not give voters a genuine free choice. But Beijing insists that the 2017 ballot has national security implications. The city, it says, cannot return a leader who works against the state or is open to foreign influence. Whether a pan-democrat chief executive would necessarily compromise national interest and security is open to debate. But Beijing thinks otherwise and insists on a zero-risk electoral model. It also stopped short of saying changes after 2017 were possible.

That a pan-democrat candidate will now have a slim chance to come forward may well be the case. Occupy Central is also likely to happen. The campaign seeks to push Beijing for democracy by threatening to paralyse the city's business district. But Beijing not only remains unyielding, it went further to cut short the tussle by imposing stringent rules for the city.

Opponents have vowed to push ahead with the civil disobedience movement. The likely confrontations do not bode well for the reform, which needs two-thirds support from the legislature. Despite suggestions that the committee is still open to fine-tuning, pan-democrats say compromise is impossible.

There are two choices - accept the model to achieve one person, one vote; or veto it and live with the old system. Idealists will opt for the latter, saying the rules fall short of international standards on democratic ballots. Pragmatists will opt for a step forward. The public can still voice their opinion in the second-stage consultation. Their views will have an impact on lawmakers' voting decision. On the road to democracy, progress is always preferable to a standstill.

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k2poon
How is it a step forward if the pan dems can't even field a candidate for CE elections with the new model. Universal suffrage isn't just one man one vote.. it also includes the right to run and choose...
arrkb
Toady! Well, at least the SCMP won't lose any of its advertising revenue. With profits on the line, I suppose one couldn't expect the SCMP to take a principled stand.
liukuei
"The city, it says, cannot return a leader who works against the state or is open to foreign influence."
Who is closed to foreign influence? Someone who only speaks and read Chinese, and who never ever interacted with anyone who's not Chinese, and who hasn't even read translations of foreign books? Is there anyone like that? Some new immigrant from central Henan who never went to school? Everyone has been exposed to "foreign influence," starting with Mao who tragically applied Stalinism to China.
ianson
For Comrade Editor Wang, it's democratic to be given the opportunity of participating in a totally phoney vote for pre-selected candidates. This is a massively retrograde step on any road of democratic development because it institutionalises the huge lie that there is something democratic happening at all, just as that lie is at the heart of the CCP's illicit domination of the Chinese population.
One can only conclude that Wang is seriously mentally deficient and needs to be replaced by anyone with half a brain. I shall not be renewing my SCMP subscription.
dibona
"The public can still voice their opinion in the second-stage consultation" - and be once again roundly ignored, no doubt.
allandyer
The model reduces the variety of candidates and is therefore a step backwards. On the road to democracy, standstill is preferable to reversing.
sjfore
Okay, the SCMP editorial board are journalists, not statisticians. But that's no excuse for being innumerate. The new model is mathematically worse than the current one (also useless). A big FU to the Hong Kong people.
sudo rm -f cy
Given a choice between bad and worse, Hongkongers will have no choice but to choose the bad. Despite us potentially getting the vote, by controlling the ballot, Beijing still controls who wins. It's not a step forward at all.
Dao-Phooy
How does this work? A candidate must get more than 600 votes therefore if there are to be 'two or three candidates' this means the people on the Nomination Committee get 'two or three' votes or am I missing something? NC members get to have 'two or three' votes on selection of the candidates and this is a step forward when everybody else gets only 1 vote? This editorial is garbage and stinks!
5403ed5a-e060-4b4c-88df-743c0a320969
The Censor in Chief has spoken!
Do you know who else has "one man one vote" universal suffrage? North Korea! One of the world's great democracies (it's even in their name!).
True democracy includes the right to stand for election.

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