Pan-democrats questioned Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's commitment to universal suffrage after it was revealed that consultation on electoral reforms was not one of next year's priorities for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau.
The omission came to light in a five-page government paper to the Legislative Council, in which the bureau set out its seven top priorities. Proposals for the abolition of appointed district councillor seats came first. In second place was following up on recommendations about elections held in the last two years - including those for the chief executive, Legco, district councils and the Election Committee.
The bureau also pledged to continue its promotion of human rights, racial equality, personal privacy and the Basic Law, as well as considering the Law Reform Commission's recommendations on a proposed anti-stalking law.
Electoral reform was only mentioned when the bureau elaborated on reviewing past elections "to ensure that public elections in future will continue to be conducted in a fair, open and honest manner".
It was reiterated that "the administration will initiate, at an appropriate time, the legislative process regarding the methods for forming the Legislative Council in 2016 and for electing the chief executive in 2017, and consult various sectors of the community, including the Legislative Council".
Legco's panel on constitutional affairs will discuss the paper next Monday.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said he was disappointed with the bureau's priorities.
"It is really a duty and an obligation on the part of the Leung administration to work with [Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs] Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, to try to forge a consensus about universal suffrage. We really have no time to waste," Leong said.
"There is nothing more important than that and I am disappointed that [the bureau] put such a low priority on it."
Acting Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing voiced regret that the bureau seemed to lack confidence about achieving universal suffrage.