• Thu
  • Oct 2, 2014
  • Updated: 2:47am
NewsHong Kong

Basic Law committee member calls for inclusive field of candidates

Professor says public must be offered a genuine choice in election of city's next chief executive

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 September, 2013, 3:53am

A Beijing-appointed legal scholar who advises on the Basic Law has renewed his call for pan-democrats to be allowed to run in the chief executive election in 2017.

Albert Chen Hung-yee warned it could cause unimaginable harm to Hong Kong if the city fails to achieve universal suffrage through negotiation.

The warning from the Hong Kong University law professor and Basic Law Committee member came a day after a committee colleague, Maria Tam Wai-chu, said his proposal to let the public recommend candidates to a nominating committee was impractical.

Chen's proposal was regarded by observers as an effort to seek middle ground, after Beijing's liaison office director, Zhang Xiaoming , shot down the pan-democrats' idea of public nomination, in which people who win a sufficient number of nominations from the public would automatically win the committee's endorsement as candidates. Critics said the idea contravened officials' view of the Basic Law, according to which the nominating committee should have a "substantial" role.

Speaking on a DBC radio show yesterday, Chen said he tabled his proposal as he hoped it would alleviate worries among pan-democrats that their candidates would simply be screened out by the nominating committee - and might help open up some middle ground in the debate over public nomination.

"If you set such a high threshold that voters don't have a choice, universal suffrage cannot be achieved, because the pan-democratic camp will veto [such a proposal]," he said. "Every Hongkonger - especially politicians from [across the spectrum] who are concerned about the city's future - should have a crisis mentality. They should understand that if we cannot reach consensus on universal suffrage … damage to Hong Kong's future will be unimaginable."

He also said the nominating committee should adopt a "one man, one vote" system when deciding on which recommended candidates would become formal candidates.

But Chen received only a lukewarm response yesterday from Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit.

Speaking on TVB's On The Record programme, Leong said: "The nominating committee must accept the voters' nomination, because the Basic Law says the nominating committee shall nominate [candidates] in accordance with democratic procedures. What could be more democratic than being nominated by 3 to 4 per cent of the voters in Hong Kong?"


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This article is now closed to comments

Wow, a Beijing appointee said that? That's rather refreshing and unexpected.
However, the cynic in me thinks this could simply be a good cop/bad cop routine. Let CY Leung go all ape-**** about the Democrats. Swoop in and tell the Democrats that they have a point. In the end, Beijing still dictates what happens anyway. But this Chen guy can come back and say "aww, I feel you man, we tried but just couldn't make universal suffrage happen." And Beijing can even point out that someone they appointed had stood with HKers, so Beijing really can't possibly be all that bad, right?
"And Beijing can even point out that someone they appointed had stood with HKers, so Beijing really can't possibly be all that bad, right?"

That won't work because the city is going to be totally ungovernable if HKers don't receive what they were promised for 2017. Beijing needs keep their word, and offer a pretty open ballot. I don't consider civil nomination very important, but I do consider it important to allow the pan-dems to run for CE. At the very least the nominating committee should have a large amount of democratically elected district councilors and lawmakers in order to ensure that there will be at least one pan-dem CE candidate.

Screening out candidates like Iran does is a joke will be vetoed in the Legco.
I hope HK doesn't ever become ungovernable. But I do hope you're right, and that political reform does move forward.
It's just that, historically-speaking, "Beijing needs keep their word" is not exactly a concept I would take to the bank.
Historically speaking, Beijing kept their word when it came to "one country, two systems". People said the sky would fall after 1997, and it did not. I remember even reading many "experts" saying that it was unlikely that the HK dollar would continue to legal tender 3 to 4 years after the handover due to Beijing's obsession for control.

I am cautiously optimistic that Beijing will present a fair package. However I also do believe Beijing's long term plan is to give nationalist parties like the DAB the upper hand in elections through the 150 per day one way permit quota of mainland immigrants that HK has to accept.


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