• Sun
  • Jul 13, 2014
  • Updated: 7:14am
NewsHong Kong
ELECTORAL REFORM

Legco president calls for more talks on suffrage

Jasper Tsang says government should work to encourage open discussion channel with Beijing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 6:37am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 6:37am

Communication between Beijing officials and lawmakers on political reform would get the best results in forging a consensus, and the government should help make it happen, according to Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing.

Referring to the meeting between central government liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming and the local deputies of the National People's Congress, Tsang called for assistance from the administration to foster such encounters, as it seemed both sides were willing to sit down at the same table.

"We hope we won't only listen to the Beijing officials, but enable lawmakers and Hong Kong officials with different stances to discuss and reach a consensus," Tsang said. "As both sides are willing and have asked to talk … I hope the administration can provide assistance. We are in the first stage of reform consultation, so it is the best time for both sides to communicate."

The five-month consultation on political reform was launched on Friday last week.

Tsang said the final goal was to carve a proposal that gained enough support so "he does not have to cast the last yes vote".

As president, he does not normally vote in the legislature.

Asked about Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's comment in a television interview that the government was facing a legitimacy crisis, Tsang said: "That is the view shared by many citizens … universal suffrage is beneficial to the government's legitimacy, according to the Basic Law."

While Lam echoed Tsang's opinion that a chief executive chosen by popular vote would enjoy greater legitimacy, she clarified her remarks by saying she meant the crisis stemmed from "the system".

More electoral plans emerged during the first weekend of reform consultation.

The Democratic Party yesterday suggested a three-track chief executive nomination proposal for the 2017 poll that included a nominating committee, and civil and party nominations. Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said they would be willing to talk with mainland officials, including the liaison office.

At the City Forum, undersecretary for constitutional and mainland affairs Lau Kong-wah said several articles in the Basic Law give the concept that the chief executive should be someone who "loves the country and loves Hong Kong".

But Benny Tai Yiu-ting, associate law professor at the University of Hong Kong, said he has never seen the word "love" in any legislation. "I have studied law for 30 years, and have taught constitutional law for 20 years … can [Lau] enlighten me as to how he came to that conclusion?" said Tai, who is also convenor of the Occupy Central movement.

In a rare gesture, Home Affairs Secretary Tsang Tak-sing wrote in his blog that universal suffrage should be implemented by a consensus based on the Basic Law. "Society generally agrees the chief executive should not be someone who would confront the central government," he said.

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