Chief executive may be moving towards talks on electoral reform
With critics of the government invited to meet the chief executive, speculation mounts that consultation could be getting under way
Political scholars - including vocal critics of the government - have been invited to meet Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying next month, sparking speculation that consultation over electoral reform is about to get under way in earnest.
Among those invited to a dinner on August 1 were Chinese University associate professor Ma Ngok and Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a senior lecturer at the university.
However, both turned down the invitation, saying they will be out of town on that date.
Ma was the chief architect of the Alliance for True Democracy's proposals announced last week for implementing universal suffrage for the chief executive election in 2017, while Choy is a veteran political commentator who has been a critic of the Leung administration.
It is understood the meeting is likely to touch on political reform, despite the fact that the chief executive's office made no mention of the subject in its invitation.
A spokesman for the office would only say that Leung meets members of the public from time to time.
It is the first time Leung has sought a meeting with some of his critics in academia since he assumed office last year. At a Legislative Council question-and-answer session last week, Leung said the government would listen to different views in the "preparatory stage" before launching a consultation on electoral reform.
On Friday, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen met the alliance for the first time to listen to the three proposals it had put forward.
Two of the proposals would allow candidates to obtain the endorsement of a nominating committee to join the ballot by garnering the signatures of 80,000 of the 3.2 million registered voters.
Executive councillor Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun said the idea of nomination by petition had "extended the Basic Law too far", and suggested that the government might table several proposals that meet the constitutional requirement for any public discussion.
"In the end we have to follow the [legislative intent] of the National People's Congress Standing Committee," she said. "On constitutional issues, I think the central government has its own say."
Fellow Exco member Bernard Chan said the electoral reform consultation should start in six months.
Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, convenor of pro-democracy group Hong Kong 2020, said the alliance's proposals could meet the requirements of the Basic Law and achieve an international standard of universal suffrage.