Fake democracy will be bad for Hong Kong and chief executive

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 June, 2014, 5:11am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 June, 2014, 5:11am

In the long and hard battle for democracy in Hong Kong, we are occasionally confronted by critics who are intelligent but unfortunately also overly sceptical or too fatalistic. One such example is the view of the respected columnist Alex Lo, expressed in his article ("It's time to set idealistic pieties aside", June 18).

Lo says: "Most of us are practical people who understand the way of the world and the difference between the realistic and achievable and idealistic pieties that will get us nowhere." He then says: "Many people want a viable election system even if it's less than perfect and doesn't meet … 'international standards' which are themselves subject to interpretation."

He has missed the most important issue in the whole debate: it is not the difference between what is probably achievable and what is not. It is the distinction between a genuine election and a fake one. The public should not and will not accept a fake election even if it is easily achievable and hence viable.

Lo says: "Good enough democracy is good enough for most people in Hong Kong … The key is that we will have a nomination committee - which selects chief executive candidates - that can evolve over time to improve the system." There are two issues arising here. First, a fake democracy is not and can never evolve into a good or good enough democracy.

Second, a fake democracy will cause more damage and harm to Hong Kong, as it will clothe the chief executive with a fake legitimacy.

Therefore, the key question is whether the nomination committee can provide a genuine nomination process for a real democratic election.

I entirely agree with Lo when he says that "public nomination does not equate to real democracy, but only one of its forms".

On this point, a panel of legal and constitutional experts of international standing recently met in Hong Kong and set out the criteria to assess what forms of electoral systems could comply with the minimal international standard, as prescribed under Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In essence, the nomination process for the 2017 election must not create any unreasonable restriction on candidacy, before it could be called real democracy and hence be acceptable to Hong Kong people.

Albert Ho, legislative councillor, Democratic Party