Legco chief turns down dinner offer on reform

Jasper Tsang says it would not be right for him to get involved in the suffrage debate

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 December, 2013, 5:29am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 December, 2013, 5:29am

Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has turned down an invitation to discuss electoral reform with senior government officials over dinner, saying it is not appropriate for him to get involved in the debate.

Tsang is one of three lawmakers who have turned down the offer from Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, who make up a task force for the consultation on electoral reform. They have invited 70 legislators to four banquets next month to gauge views on arrangements for universal suffrage.

"It may not be appropriate for me to express my views alongside other lawmakers," Tsang said yesterday as he unveiled a children's art exhibition at Legco. "I will listen to them … but as the president I should not debate with other lawmakers on the matter of electoral reform."

Real estate sector lawmaker Abraham Razack and radical pan-democrat "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung have also declined to attend the dinners, which will be held at Lam's official residence. Radical pan-democrat Wong Yuk-man had yet to reply as of yesterday.

Asked if the dinner table is an appropriate forum for deliberations over electoral reform, on which a public consultation is currently being held, Tsang said: "Such events are conducive to nurturing an environment favourable to discussion."

Each of the dinners, to be held on January 6, 7, 9 and 14, will feature a mix of pan-democratic and pro-government lawmakers. Legislators from the same party are to be split across the four dinners.

Razack, of the Business and Professionals Alliance, said he had already expressed his stance through other channels.

"The government already knows my opinions," he said.

Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said she would raise at the dinner a proposal by pan-democrats for a "triple-track" nomination process for the chief executive election, whereby the public, political parties and a nominating committee would all be allowed to put forward candidates.

But Mo said she doubted the dinners would prove very effective. "I won't expect any conclusion to emerge from the dinners, which are likely to be noisy," she said.