Occupy Central

'Feasible' plan for 2017 poll coming soon, Silent Majority group says

Co-founder of anti-Occupy Central group says all sides will accept proposal, but offers no details

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 October, 2013, 4:42am

A campaign group opposed to the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement will release a "more feasible" proposal for electoral reform than those currently on the table, a key player in the group's foundation says.

Professor Francis Lui Ting-ming, an economist who was among the founders of the Silent Majority group, says its plan would represent the best option for "interpreting the major opinions" of society.

He expects the plan to be released before the end of this month.

"It will be more democratic, and acceptable to both pan-democrats and Beijing," said Lui, head of economics at the University of Science and Technology.

"But I cannot reveal further details now."

Pan-democratic groups want the public to be allowed to directly nominate candidates for the 2017 election for chief executive, due to be the first poll in the city run under universal suffrage.

But Beijing loyalists and the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong say public nominations would violate the Basic Law, which stipulates that candidates put to the public vote must be put forward by a "broadly representative" nominating committee.

Professor Ho Lok-sang, a Lingnan University academic and core member of Silent Majority, said the group would agree to public nomination "as long as it is not a formal and binding procedure".

While he admitted the group was working on its own electoral reform plan, he said its final contents had not yet been agreed.

"There are some details within certain dimensions of it with which I hold reservations," Ho said. "But the consensus within Silent Majority is that the proposal would be within the framework of the Basic Law."

Lui said the electoral plan would attempt to "prevent the twisting of individuals' preferences".

However, despite his role in founding the group, Lui insists he is not one of the 40 members of Silent Majority, though he will support its electoral reform plan.

"If they do not raise their proposal, eventually I will do it myself," the academic said, adding that the plan was a "collective effort" by the group's members.

Ho had previously suggested that voters in 2017 be allowed to cast both "positive and negative votes".

The winning candidate would be decided by subtracting the number of negative votes from the number of positives.

Silent Majority was set up in August as a reaction to Occupy Central, which plans to blockade streets in Central in July next year as a "last resort" if the government fails to put forward an acceptable plan for a democratic 2017 election.

Dr Chan Kin-man, one of the three founders of Occupy Central, welcomed Silent Majority's decision to enter the electoral reform debate.

"My understanding was that [Silent Majority] would only raise general principles instead of an actual proposal," said Chan, a Chinese University sociologist. "But we welcome the focus being put on electoral plans instead of Occupy Central per se.

"Our baseline on electoral reform is that the final suffrage plan has to comply with international standards."