Occupy Central lacks substance

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 July, 2013, 1:51am

Some months ago, former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen warned that time was running out to put in place all the measures necessary to allow the 2017 election of the SAR chief executive by universal suffrage.

Yet, to date, the government and its supporters are merely dropping hints that the chief executive must be acceptable to Beijing. Occupy Central has called for an "acceptable road map" that lacks any clue as to what this may look like and stated that there should be no restrictions on the right to stand.

This reflects badly on them both.

The government has an obligation to set out a timetable for the consultative and legislative steps to provide the framework for the election, together with an outline of how the election will be conducted.

Its reluctance to do so to date may be based on a suspicion that whatever is proposed will be condemned by Occupy Central. It may be right.

It is notoriously difficult for large and loosely defined bodies such as Occupy Central to prepare detailed manifestos.

It is no surprise in these circumstances that the bulk of its writings to date focus on the rationale for civil disobedience.

On the core issue of the conduct of the election, there is almost no substance at all.

A policy vacuum is a poor basis on which to ask 10,000 people to break the law and disrupt the efforts of people in Central to go about their business.

Responsible political movements are defined by what they stand for, not merely what they stand against. Otherwise they are liable to be dismissed as frivolous.

Occupy Central should do the necessary work and make clear in detail how it wishes the election to be conducted.

A useful first step would be for the government to stop dithering, pluck up its courage and set a firm date on which it will set out its proposals and the timetable for the election. And it should challenge Occupy Central to announce its proposals on the same day.

A successful election will be achieved through detailed work and informed public debate.

Delays, orchestrated hints, posturing and slogans won't cut it.

David Hall, Mid-Levels