Voters' views will be important in chief executive election

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 June, 2015, 5:41pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 June, 2015, 5:41pm

The discussions on the government's proposed political reforms have produced many half-baked ideas on universal suffrage, and have led to even deeper divisions in society.

We have to recognise that if these proposals are rejected by Legco later this month, the government will have no alternative but to return to the old method of electing the chief executive for the 2017 election. If that happens, we will have made no progress.

Some individuals say the government's proposals offer fictitious choices, because the nominating committee will first screen all the chief executive hopefuls before eligible candidates stand in the election where they are voted through universal suffrage. However, although the choices are designed to be limited, the public will still be empowered to make a selection.

The new system will allow every qualified voter to vote. Also, the nominating committee should recommend more than one candidate to ensure there is a competition. The candidates will be answerable to the entire electorate. If we revert to the old system, they will be chosen by only 1,200 Election Committee members.

This would mean they could ignore the will of Hong Kong's five million registered voters.

But under the proposed reforms, candidates would ignore these five million voters at their peril. Even if all the candidates in 2017, unfortunately, come from the same political camp, if they want to be elected, they will also have to win backing from supporters of other parties. All voters and all political parties will have an influential role to play.

It is impossible for all of us to judge the progress of political reform by using the same yardstick, and any comments on the reforms are subjective. We should focus on the substance of the proposed reforms, and on the transfer of power from the election committee to the public.

"The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are," said J. P. Morgan. Hong Kong people have to ask if they want to stay where they are or to make "the first step towards getting somewhere".

Kam Man-fung, member, central committee, New People's Party