Pan-democrats threaten 'de facto referendum' over Article 23 fears

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 5:58am

Pan-democratic lawmakers are prepared to take drastic action, including setting up another "de facto referendum", if the government attempts to push through legislation on national security.

Hong Kong's law has no provision for a plebiscite, but five lawmakers in geographical constituencies resigned in 2010 to spark a public vote which they characterised as a referendum on universal suffrage. The government has since sought to prevent this, and lawmakers who quit are now banned from standing in any by-election for six months.

But radical lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung said a new attempt to bring in security laws under Article 23 of the Basic Law could see a repeat of the campaign.

"I urge the public to back a by-election-style referendum when the government initiates Article 23 legislation again," Leung said yesterday.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit also pledged to fight national security laws, but stopped short of specifically mentioning a referendum.

"In dealing with sensitive issues in future, like Article 23, if the government insisted on repeating its past wrong and pushing it forcefully, the Civic Party would exclude no alternative," he said.

The administration of former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa attempted to push through national security laws in 2003, but was forced to drop the plan after massive protests.

Leong also called for the 27 pan-democrats elected to the 70-strong legislature to work together when the new term starts next month, after a Legislative Council election that saw infighting between the camp's radicals and more moderate faction.

He said there was room for co-operation on livelihood issues.