POLITICAL REFORM

Most still want public to name leader: HKU poll

Majority of Hongkongers want power to pick candidates for 2017 election, rather than leaving it to nominating committee, survey reveals

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 November, 2013, 5:07am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 November, 2013, 11:06am

Despite a thumbs-down from Beijing loyalists and officials, a poll has found that most Hongkongers favour the pan-democrats' proposal that all voters should be able to nominate chief executive candidates.

A Hong Kong University poll of about 1,000 residents found 62 per cent favoured the idea of "public nomination" for the 2017 election, when universal suffrage is due to be introduced. Only 27 per cent said candidates should continue to be put forward by a nominating committee.

The Alliance for True Democracy, which commissioned the poll, has vowed to table its own electoral reform plan, based on the findings, early next year.

"The survey clearly demonstrated that Hongkongers … are seriously concerned about the political [screening] role of the nominating committee," said Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, convenor of the alliance of 26 pan-democratic lawmakers.

Christopher Lau Gar-hung of radical group People Power called the result a "slap in the face" for the Civic Party's Ronny Tong Ka-wah. Tong tabled a more moderate proposal last month after Beijing-loyalists claimed public nomination contravened the Basic Law.

"I hope he can turn back and promote public nomination with us," Lau said.

The Basic Law states that chief executive candidates should be nominated by a "broadly representative" committee. But pan-democrats have been advocating public nomination because they fear such a committee could screen out candidates unacceptable to the central government.

The idea has been condemned by pro-Beijing figures including Zhang Xiaoming, the head of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong.

Tong had proposed expanding the nominating committee by adding all district councillors because the 1,193-strong panel that nominated and elected the city's leader last year was dominated by Beijing loyalists.

About half the poll respondents said they supported the idea of having a 400-strong nominating committee chosen by a citywide election.

A 1,500-strong nomination committee, an idea similar to Tong's, received only 29 per cent approval, while 39 per cent opposed the idea.

Cheng said since respondents could be inclined to be idealistic in polls, the alliance would discuss technical issues and details before incorporating the ideas into a proposal.

"There were worries that [if we were to directly elect the nominating committee,] there would be too many elections," he said.

"But at least these findings reflect the people's most basic and honest voices."