All have to unite to discuss electoral reforms: Legco head Jasper Tsang
Central, local governments and lawmakers should work together towards an electoral reform plan acceptable to all, Jasper Tsang says
Tony Cheung and Joshua But
Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has urged the central and local governments and pan-democrats to "sit down and discuss" political reform, saying that they would all share the responsibility if democratisation broke down.
The veteran leftist politician said he hoped that all lawmakers - including democrats now barred from the mainland - would be able to attend the celebrations marking the 65th anniversary of the People's Republic of China next year.
Tsang was speaking yesterday as democracy activists, impatient at the lack of consultation on the issue by the local government, planned an "Occupy Central" movement in protest.
"[Beijing and local politicians] should all see the political reality, and [realise] that it is necessary for all parties concerned to sit down and come up with an [electoral reform] proposal which is acceptable to all," he said.
"If there is no progress [on democratisation] … the responsibility will not be only on the pan-democrats," he said. But the pan-democrats "would not win public support either" if they advocated a proposal unacceptable to Beijing and against the Basic Law.
While no consultation paper had yet been issued, Tsang believed that the local government had already started its preparation work behind closed doors.
"It takes time for the government to do things," he said.
University constitutional law associate professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting last month floated the "Occupy Central" plan under which at least 10,000 protesters would blockade roads next year to force the government to back full universal suffrage.
It was confirmed meanwhile that Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen and undersecretary Lau Kong-wah have started meeting pro-establishment lawmakers to explore possible reform options.
Lawmaker Chan Kin-por, who met the officials a fortnight ago, said the options to reform the Legislative Council election in 2016 included increasing the number of "super seats", extending the electoral base of the existing trade-based functional constituencies, and reducing the seats in these constituencies.
"My impression is that constitutional reform is causing the officials a severe headache because they are aware that Hong Kong people are hoping for a progressive proposal," Chan said.
Industrial sector lawmaker Lam Tai-fai also urged the government to launch a consultation as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Tsang disclosed that in 2009 he had tried unsuccessfully to help all 60 lawmakers, including the 23 pan-democrats, to go to Beijing for ceremonies commemorating the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.
"[Next] year will be the 65th anniversary, so could we ask this again? Of course, we need to consult the lawmakers, too," Tsang said.