Exchanges over electoral reform are tipped to be the main course at tomorrow's dinner reception when Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying hosts more than 20 professionals and academics, including core pan-democrats, at Government House.
Few would expect any promises from Leung over the reform, which will determine the rules of universal suffrage in the 2017 Chief Executive election. But the function would at least show Leung assuming his role in the debate, which has thrown up for discussion the formation of a nominating committee and the screening of candidates, among other issues.
The dinner was to have been held at The Hong Kong Club in Central, but the Chief Executive's Office said it would now be served at Leung's official residence "to avoid causing inconvenience" to the club.
A government source said they had not set an agenda, so guests could converse freely on any subject. "It is understandable and reasonable if some of them raise the electoral reform for discussion," the source said.
Both pan-democrats and Beijing loyalists will be attending tomorrow's reception. Among the guests from the pan-democratic camp are former Democratic Party lawmakers Cheung Man-kwong, one of three party representatives who held constitutional reform talks with top officials of the liaison office in 2010, and Lee Wing-tat, now research director of moderate democratic group Hong Kong 2020; City University's Ray Yep Kin-man; and Civic Party vice-chairman Stephen Chan Ching-kiu, who is also Lingnan University's academic dean of arts.
Other invitees include economists Richard Wong Yue-chim of the University of Hong Kong and Raymond So Wai-man of Hang Seng Management College. Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, will also be present.
Cheung said he would urge the government to consider an electronic voting exercise, to be designed by the HKU's public opinion programme for implementation next year.
"It will be a referendum to collect public opinion," he said. "The government should not put forward any [electoral reform] proposal that the public would not authorise."