Unionists' plan for reform will scrape deadline

With 400,000 members to canvass, pro-Beijing FTU says its proposal won't be ready to hand to government until May, when consultation ends

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 December, 2013, 5:25am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 December, 2013, 4:56pm

It will take three more months for the Beijing-loyalist Federation of Trade Unions to assess the opinions of its 400,000 members and come up with an initial proposal for political reform, the federation's chairman Ng Chau-pei confirmed yesterday.

The final proposal will not be ready until May - at the end of the five-month consultation period.

The FTU also unveiled its six-strong task force on political reform. Members include Ng, lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin and executive councillor Cheng Yiu-tong, with the federation's president Lam Shuk-yee taking the chair.

FTU honorary president Chan Yuen-han was notable by her absence. Chan, a legislator, had called for the government's consultation process to take into account the pan-democrats' proposal for the public to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive election.

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said Chan was excluded from the task force as she had to focus on other issues, such as welfare, and not because of her relatively liberal stance.

Ng refused to comment on whether the federation's proposal would include the idea of "public nomination" if members demanded it, but said: "Our consultation won't limit [members] from raising different opinions."

He expected to table the FTU's initial proposal in March or April - after holding at least four forums for members, and talks with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Another round of meetings would debate the proposal before it is finalised and submitted to the administration in May.

Separately, Basic Law Committee member Albert Chen Hung-yee, a law professor at Hong Kong University, called for pan-democrats to put forward a proposal for reform that was in line with the mini-constitution.

"If the pan-democrats' proposal is perceived by Beijing to deviate from the Basic Law, while the pro-establishment camp suggests a plan that fits it … it seems natural for Beijing to pick the latter," he said in an interview with Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing.

"They should have a back-up proposal in hand," he advised.

Chen said the mechanics of the Democratic Party's proposal - which would see candidates for the 2017 poll put forward by a nominating committee, the public and political parties - needed more work. He said the formation of the nominating committee should reference the Election Committee, which was responsible for voting for previous chief executive candidates and balanced commercial, professional, political and social interests.

"Most Hongkongers are not capitalists and … might not protect the interests of the commercial sector," he added.

Chen warned it would be hard to achieve universal suffrage if the proposal that is to be presented by the government was vetoed by lawmakers. "Unless pan-democrats, Beijing and the government all change their views on universal suffrage, I don't see how another proposal would have a better chance."