Emily Lau: Democrats open to dialogue with Beijing on reform

Chairwoman Emily Lau says party does not want a war with central government

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 January, 2013, 5:44am

The Democratic Party is open to dialogue with Beijing over the political reform ahead, chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said, despite the backlash it received for supporting the 2010 government package after closed-door talks with Beijing's representatives.

Veteran lawmaker Lau, 60, who was last month elected as the first female leader of the 18-year-old party, said: "We are neither guerrillas nor terrorists who have to go into war.

"There are only two options: war and negotiation. We support negotiation."

Lau, who succeeded Albert Ho Chun-yan, added: "But negotiation needs the right atmosphere and soil."

Lau accused the central government of dampening the party's development, despite its lawmakers' previous backing of Beijing's electoral reform.

In June 2010, the party drew flak for voting in favour of the reform proposals for the 2012 chief executive and Legislative Council elections, after private talks with Beijing's liaison office.

The package expanded the Election Committee, which elects the city's leader, from 800 to 1,200 and added five functional constituency and five geographical seats to the 60-seat legislature. But it came without a government commitment to abolish functional constituencies, which the pan-democrats see as a barrier to universal suffrage.

Later this year, the government is set to kick start consultation over the electoral methods of the 2016 Legco and 2017 chief executive elections.

Lau said her party stood firm on its call for the government to set out the universal suffrage methods of the 2017 chief executive and 2020 Legco polls in one go, despite the Civic Party's apparently softening attitude.

More than a week ago, the Civic Party said it was willing to consider the government's proposal on electing the chief executive by "genuine" universal suffrage in 2017, even if the blueprint for the 2020 Legco polls is not put forward in the meantime.