Public to be consulted this year on Hong Kong's 2017 polls
Ministers to work on reform proposals for next Legco and chief executive elections
Tony Cheung and Tanna Chong
The public will be consulted this year on arrangements for the next chief executive and Legislative Council elections, the government said yesterday, ending months of speculation.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told lawmakers that a task force of three ministers, led by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, would work on proposals. The ministers promised ample time for the public to express its views.
However, they remained cautious about the possibility of including the pan-democrats' idea of "public nomination", under which some or all registered voters would be able to put forward chief executive candidates.
Lam did not rule it out, but said the consultation paper would cover general steps, not details.
She said the city must strictly follow the Basic Law and the decisions of the National People's Congress Standing Committee to elect its next chief by universal suffrage in 2017.
Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, a member of the task force, also did not rule out public nomination.
But he said: "If any suggestion, including public nomination, contravenes the Basic Law, it cannot be considered."
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen is also on the task force.
Beijing loyalists have attacked the idea of public nomination.
It was rejected last month by Zhang Xiaoming, head of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, who said it was not in line with the Basic Law stipulation that chief executive candidates must be nominated by a "broadly representative" committee.
Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee questioned whether Lam's heavy workload would allow her to lead the consultation properly.
But Lam said: "Other aspects of my work are gradually getting on track. I can concentrate on electoral reform."