Electoral reform approval would be step in the right direction

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 May, 2015, 6:16pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 May, 2015, 6:16pm

As a former legislator, I believe there are many Hong Kong belongers who hope our lawmakers, both pro-establishment and pan-democratic, will do their utmost to hammer out a consensus in Shenzhen on Sunday. I hope that will allow the government's political reform package to be passed by a two-thirds majority vote in the Legislative Council next month.

According to media reports, the pro-democratic camp will not accept any reform proposal under the Standing Committee's August 31, 2014 decision, which does not offer Hongkongers a genuine choice of candidates.

The pro-establishment camp accepts the government's political reform package as a major step forward and hopes all parties will work together to improve mutual trust with the central government and achieve further democratic progress.

A wider dimension that should not be overlooked is whether Hong Kong can or will become in 2017 the first city under the People's Republic of China's sovereignty, to elect its chief executive under universal suffrage, one-person-one-vote, by its five million registered voters.

The government's political reform package proposes that, in 2017, the chief executive's electorate will expand from the current 1,200 Election Committee voters, to five million registered voters. This is an important aspect of the reform package which requires a two-thirds majority vote at Legco.

This means that whoever is elected chief executive by universal franchise in 2017, apart from having to have allegiance to the central government, will have to be equally responsible to the five million Hong Kong voters in representing to Beijing the best interests for our city and our seven million citizens.

The continuous political bickering and divisiveness in recent years have caused much damage to Hong Kong's international standing and economic competitiveness. Should the government's reform package be voted down in Legco, Hong Kong's international image could slide even more and our renowned "can do" spirit be further weakened.

All parties should put aside their differences at the Shenzhen meeting and pragmatically find a way to get the two-thirds majority for the reform package in Legco next month. The package is much more than "half a loaf".

As a whole, it represents a major step forward towards reforming the legislature in 2020, to be followed by reviewing and expanding the chief executive election process by universal suffrage in 2022.

Hilton Cheong-Leen, To Kwa Wan