Democracy must not escape us now: Martin Lee

Icon for political freedom says there must be no compromise in final battle for universal suffrage

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 4:42am

The founding chairman of the Democratic Party yesterday warned that this was the final round in the fight for democracy and urged pan-democrats not to settle for anything less than genuine universal suffrage.

Martin Lee Chu-ming said it would be completely unacceptable if the 2017 chief executive race fell short of international standards on universal suffrage - unless legislation had been passed giving a timetable for introducing full democracy.

"This is already the very final round of our battle for democracy," he said. "There is no reason why we should accept any election method which is under Beijing's control and falls short of international standards, or else why should we bother to vote?"

In April, the 75-year-old democracy stalwart surprised supporters when he suggested candidates for the 2017 chief executive election could be nominated via a screening process. There had to be at least five candidates and at least one pan-democrat, his proposal added.

He retracted the proposal and went on to apologise for letting his supporters down. In his latest interview with the South China Morning Post, Lee said he was not putting forward any new election methods.

Instead, he reiterated his tough stance on genuine universal suffrage for 2017. According to the Basic Law, election of the chief executive by universal suffrage would see candidates selected by a broadly representative nominating committee.

"The most broadly representative committee in this case, is of course by civil nomination [the city's 3.5 million potential voters] - as advocated by student-led Scholarism - or a nominating committee elected by universal suffrage," said Lee.

While Scholarism and radical pro-democracy parties stand firm on civil nomination, the moderate Democratic Party and Civic Party have suggested this is not their bottom line. But Lee urged his fellow party members not to filter out any of the more progressive proposals.

"No one has the right to compromise on behalf of Hongkongers," said Lee. "If we compromise every five years, when would we finally realise a truly democratic election?"

Lee accused Commissioner of Police Andy Tsang Wai-hung of working closely with the government to suppress political opposition. He said that, as a result, the once mutually respectful relationship between the police and the public had been lost, since "the boss of the force is someone allied with the Communist Party".

The Independent Commission Against Corruption had also lost its credibility, said Lee, after dropping its investigation into allegedly false statements by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying over unauthorised structures at his home, while going to court with the case of unauthorised structures at the home of his election rival, Henry Tang Ying-yen.

"Leung intends to destroy the harmony of Hong Kong by polarisation. I have never seen any leader in the world doing what he has been doing," Lee said.

Lee also urged the pan-democrats to get ready for the chief executive race by forming a shadow cabinet to convince the public they are qualified to take office.