Government to consider poll results on people's nomination for 2017 poll

Constitutional affairs minister says Occupy Central survey seeking a voice in nominating candidates for chief executive to be reviewed

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 5:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 5:01am

The government would consider the results of a New Year's Day poll on electoral reform that was organised by pro-democracy activists, the constitutional affairs minister, Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, said yesterday.

Tam also said there was no requirement in the Basic Law for the nominating committee for the 2017 chief executive election to put forward candidates "as a whole", as Beijing officials have said.

In response to criticism from a student leader at a 10-hour session in the Legislative Council, Tam said members of the public should express their views on reform based on their understanding of the mini-constitution.

About 200 people expressed their views on electoral reform and other issues at the session.

Meanwhile, during a visit to Sha Tin, also to encourage people to air their opinions about political reform, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who had dismissed the New Year's Day poll as irrelevant, was criticised by a "disappointed" resident for her reluctance to listen to Occupy Central campaigners.

In the New Year's Day poll organised by the Occupy Central movement, 94 per cent of the 62,000 voters demanded that the public have a say in nominating candidates for the post of chief executive in 2017.

At the Legislative Council session, the convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, Yeung Ching-yin, asked Tam whether the administration "was forcing people to occupy Central" by dismissing the public poll.

Tam said his bureau had "received [written submissions] recently about the results of the three questions asked in the New Year's Day poll" and that he and his bureau would "include the opinions in a [report] on public views".

"It will certainly be referred to," he said.

In response to further criticism, Tam admitted that the Basic Law did not say that the nominating committee should nominate candidates "as a whole". He added that the Basic Law stated only that the committee should put forward hopefuls "in accordance with democratic procedures". Tam also agreed with some attendees that the city's leader would be "better in keeping tabs on public opinion" if he or she is elected directly.

Occupy Central organiser Dr Chan Kin-man said he appreciated Tam's pledge to consider the organisation's poll results. "The government's previous response was outrageous … but I am not sure whether this was just Tam being pragmatic or whether it represents the government's view," he said.

In the pro-establishment camp, executive councillor Cheung Chi-kong said pan-democrats should improve their ties with the central government because their relationship with Beijing "is worse than Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's".

And in an interview with ATV's Newsline to be broadcast today, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung says: "The only body who has the power to nominate is the nominating committee."