• Sun
  • Sep 21, 2014
  • Updated: 4:13am
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong group Scholarism switches focus to 2017 chief executive poll

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 October, 2013, 11:47am

As well as forcing the government to climb down, last year's protests against national education propelled a group of young activists into the headlines.

But having won their fight against a school curriculum they described as "brainwashing", Scholarism members have a bigger target: political reform and universal suffrage in 2017.

The group, founded in 2011 by teenager Joshua Wong Chi-fung, was among the first organisations to put forward a proposal for the 2017 chief executive poll, due to be decided by universal suffrage.

"Political reform is more complicated … everyone has different views, even if they all support universal suffrage," said Scholarism member Agnes Chow Ting. "It is taking us more time to research how other countries' democratic systems work."

Chow, now 16 and in Form Six, became the group's spokeswoman after taking part in last year's protests, when tens of thousands gathered outside government headquarters.

The group proposed that the "broadly representative" nominating committee, which under the Basic Law will select chief executive candidates, should include all 3.2 million voters.

But the idea of public nomination has been dismissed by Beijing loyalists and central government representatives as a breach of the Basic Law.

Chow is reluctant to discuss their chances of victory.

"As social activists, we never think about how high our chances of getting what we strive for are," she said. "To be frank, we didn't know in 2011 if the national education curriculum would be scrapped."

And Chow says the group will not take part in Occupy Central - the civil disobedience campaign that will see thousands block streets in Central next June if the government fails to put forward acceptable electoral reforms.

"As a group that includes a lot of students under 18, we should not take part in it" in line with the wishes of Occupy organiser Benny Tai Yiu-ting, she said. "But we agree we should resort to civil disobedience to fight for democracy."

Scholarism's priority now is to promote its electoral reform plan by reaching out to the public at booths throughout the city.

"We're glad that many Hongkongers are very supportive of us, not just in terms of money but also in terms of time," Chow said.

 

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