Pan-democrats to seek public opinion on three proposals for 2017 election

Pan-democrats to put forward three ideas for mass involvement in nominating committees

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 July, 2013, 5:12am

A pan-democratic suggestion to let 3.2 million ordinary voters citywide nominate, and vote for, their leader by 2017 is set to become the centrepiece of an intensifying battle over constitutional reform.

The idea is found in two of three proposals on universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election that the Alliance for True Democracy - comprising 26 of the 27 pan-democratic lawmakers - will flesh out today.

The proposals were drafted to "meet world standards of democracy", the alliance said.

Two Beijing-loyalist lawmakers, however, warned that the proposals might conflict with the Basic Law - the city's mini-constitution - or the stance the national legislature took in 2007.

Commissioned by the alliance, the proposals were drawn up by academics including Chinese University political scientist Ma Ngok, and submitted to pan-democratic parties a fortnight ago. The alliance will seek public opinion before presenting one concrete proposal by the end of the year.

All three proposals concern the formation of a nominating committee, which under the Basic Law must be "broadly representative", and the nomination process, which must be carried out "in accordance with democratic procedures".

Under the first proposal, legislators and district councillors would be given seats on the committee.

Under the second proposal, district councillors would be added to the existing 1,193-strong election committee, which elected Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying last year.

Aspiring candidates who obtained nomination by 10 per cent of committee members would be able to contest the election. Alternatively, they could secure the committee's endorsement to join the ballot by garnering the signatures of 80,000, or 2 per cent, of the 3.2 million voters.

Under the third proposal, the city would be divided into 20 constituencies to elect committee delegates.

Ma said the proposals aimed to meet international standards of universal suffrage, in particular equal rights to nominate, to be nominated, and to vote. Ma believes the proposals meet Basic Law requirements but may not be in line with the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee in 2007 that the formation of the nominating committee "could be modelled on that of the election committee".

"The concern is about the legitimacy of the nominating committee, as its members will have more rights than others to pick the leader," Ma said.

"The alternative route, which allows ordinary voters to nominate, can ensure those with reasonable public support can also enter the race."

Ma expects the alternative route to attract controversy, and says it may be the key to the political reform battle.

Lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, also a City University associate law professor, said the proposals were "not practical".

"The 2 per cent route clearly does not follow the requirements of the Basic Law. The nominating committee will lose its role in the nomination of the chief executive," she said. "The proposals do not address the issue [of achieving universal suffrage in 2017]."

Beijing-loyalist lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin, of the Federation of Trade Unions, said any parties could express their views to achieve universal suffrage "but the government must only table a proposal that is fully in line with Basic Law and the NPC Standing Committee decision".