The solution is simple ... shelve the election reform package
Here's a crazy idea for the universal suffrage debate that might actually be the fairest for all sides. I didn't come up with it but heard it yesterday from a wise man who was previously very high up within the Hong Kong government. The Chatham House rule dictates I must keep his identity and the occasion undisclosed. In truth, I am not sure he was even suggesting such an extreme solution, but I think he was leaning towards it.
Shelve the government's electoral reform package. Yes, you have heard that right. Spare ourselves more fights, confrontations and recriminations. Cancel the whole package like former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa did with Article 23 public security legislation in 2003 after half a million people hit the streets.
As recent polls show, at least 40 per cent of Hong Kong people reject the package. Among young people and those with university-level education, those in the rejection camp are touching 70 per cent in some polls. These are the city's future educated and professional elites.
There is really no point trying to shove an unwanted election plan down the throat of the next generation if they really don't want it. Here, I make no comment on the right and wrong or credibility of the reform package.
Government officials are still treating the poll numbers as if a majority favoured the election reform package. They are effectively treating it like a referendum where only a majority, however slim, is good enough to justify the package's passage in the legislature. The irony is that they were the ones who are always banging on about the Basic Law's prohibition of referendums and berating pan-democrats for claiming to conduct de facto referendums. They are right about pan-dems, so let's not treat the continuous university polls as if they are a referendum by default.
The way things are going, the reform package is not going to pass anyway, as pan-democratic lawmakers have both the numbers and determination to veto it. So dropping it would not change the likely outcome. But it would help ease the bitter divide that currently poisons our entire political discourse and show good will towards the young activists and pan-democrats.