Lawmaker Ronny Tong won't lobby for 2017 election plan in Beijing
Ronny Tong says he won't push his vision for the 2017 election as he joins a Bar Association delegation to Beijing this week
Pan-democrat lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah is taking part in a Bar Association visit to Beijing, two years after being stopped from joining a similar delegation of lawyers to the capital.
But he has promised not to use the trip to promote his proposals for political reform and said he would not touch on the subject with Beijing officials unless asked for his views.
Tong and Civic Party colleague Dennis Kwok, who is also part of the delegation, were reported by a Chinese-language newspaper to be the first pan-democrats able to put their case for reform in Beijing amid a debate over electoral methods for the 2017 chief executive poll.
"I apologise to the Bar Association" for diverting attention from the visit's true intentions as a legal exchange, Tong said as he left for Beijing yesterday. "I will lobby for my electoral plan via all other channels, but I would not hijack this visit."
Tong, perceived as a moderate in the pan-democratic camp, has proposed widening the nomination committee which will put forward candidates for the election to include all district councillors, and giving votes for some representatives on the committee to individuals rather than corporations.
He believes a preferential voting system should be used in the election itself, due to be the first run under universal suffrage. Tong argues that allowing voters to rank candidates in order of preference will ensure that the winner has broad support.
Tong and Kwok are among a 20-strong delegation of lawyers which will meet officials including Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei and State Council member Feng Wei, a former director of the legal affairs department at Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong. They return to Hong Kong on Saturday.
Tong, a senior counsel, had joined Bar Association colleagues for several of the two-yearly visits to the capital. But when the association last sent a delegation to Beijing in 2011, Tong was asked by mainland officials to stay away with just two days' notice after his party opposed a package of electoral reforms in 2010.
Meanwhile, the three-strong team of senior officials tasked with kicking off a consultation on electoral reform has held its first meeting, the government confirmed in answer to a lawmaker's written question yesterday.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was tasked earlier this month with leading preparations and putting together proposals for the consultation. She will be assisted by Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung and constitutional affairs chief Raymond Tam Chi-yuen.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that the consultation would begin before the end of the year.