Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

Lawmaker Albert Ho may sacrifice 'super seat' for democracy fight

Democrat lawmaker Albert Ho is considering quitting Legco as part of a new plan to push for universal suffrage in chief executive ballot

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 March, 2013, 5:10am

Former Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan has thrown his weight behind a plan to occupy Central to press for democracy, saying he may quit his "super seat" in the legislature to trigger a by-election on the issue.

Ho also said he was ready to face potential criminal prosecution arising from the mass gathering or blocking of roads in the business district.

Any possible sacrifices, such as losing his lawyer's licence as a result of prosecution, would be "small and not worth mentioning", he said on radio.

The idea of resignation was cited in a four-step road map laid out yesterday by constitutional law academic Benny Tai Yiu-ting that could eventually see Central flooded with 10,000 protesters to demand universal suffrage in the 2017 chief executive election.

"Whether it will come to this depends on whether the government is sincere in putting up a genuine plan for universal suffrage," Ho said. "We have to make our determination clear."

Whether it will come to this depends on whether the government is sincere in putting up a genuine plan for universal suffrage

Ho quit as chairman of the Democrats to take responsibility for their poor showing in the 2012 Legislative Council poll. He himself narrowly won one of five new seats in the District Council constituency - dubbed super seats because they involved a citywide ballot, giving them a bigger mandate than other legislature seats.

If he resigned from the seat, he would be barred from standing in the resulting by-election under a new law designed to deter such intentions, but would trigger a ballot in which 3.2 million residents would be eligible to vote.

Ho also said "middlemen" from the central government and mainland academics had asked pan-democratic politicians how determined they were in advancing the cause of democracy.

"The message they get is clear: we are prepared. This time, even the most moderate members cannot tolerate deceit," he said.

Separately, Tai told online news outlet Inmedia that the first stage of his plan involved drawing up a proposal for universal suffrage, followed by a citywide referendum held on the web.

"After the public approves the proposal, I suspect Beijing will throw out another plan to negotiate with us," he said. "But that plan may not be genuine."

Tai said if Ho quit at this stage, the subsequent by-election would serve as a de facto referendum on the government proposal. "If the public votes against Beijing's plan and the government refuses to accept public opinion, we will block the roads."

In Beijing, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the National People's Congress, urged the pan-democrats to consider Hong Kong's international image and whether their plans would obstruct its economic activities. Vincent Lo Hong-sui, a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said investors might withdraw their money if the plan went ahead.