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  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 11:47am
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POLITICS

Chief executive vote must protect capitalism, law expert Wang Zhenmin warns

Mainland legal expert warns city must stick to the Basic Law to preserve its prosperity

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 5:14am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 5:14am
 

Hong Kong must uphold the interests of businessmen as it moves towards universal suffrage to protect capitalism and meritocracy, top mainland legal expert Wang Zhenmin has said.

Wang, the dean of law at Tsinghua University and a former Basic Law Committee member, said the business sector must continue to have a voice in the nominating committee that will vet and pick chief executive candidates.

"The business and professional sectors will constitute a minority when universal suffrage arrives. But their voices are important so we need to ensure they can still serve their main function - maintaining the city's prosperity - or else Hong Kong will face great problems," Wang said at a legal forum yesterday. "This is also to retain meritocracy in politics … and capitalism."

Wang's remarks come amid a heated debate on how chief executive candidates should be nominated in 2017.

The Basic Law states candidates should be put forward by "a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures". But pan-democrats want both voters and political parties to also be granted nominating rights, arguing it does not necessarily violate the mini-constitution.

When asked about the legality of the pan-democrats' "three-track" proposal, Wang said the committee's "organisational nomination" was the only approach allowed by law.

"The public is free to discuss all ideas, but the government cannot introduce anything not allowed in the law," he said.

In another forum, Basic Law Committee deputy director Elsie Leung Oi-sie said public and party nominations were "too distant" from the political system.

"[It] would deviate too much from the current election committee," said Leung, a former secretary for justice. The size of the nominating committee was open for discussion as long as changes were not "too drastic". She has previously opposed proposals that suggested including the city's 412 elected district councillors on the committee.

Leung called on Hongkongers to "implement universal suffrage then seek further progress".

Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong warned of "mutual destruction" if all political parties insisted on their views.

Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who spoke at the same forum as Wang, said his "meritocracy in politics" statement had "no legal standing".

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kongshan2047
I think the point which Prof. Wang is trying to make is that we must try to avoid populism in HK. Recent govt. policies do make many people worry that HK is moving towards a welfare state such as the increase of HK$20b per year in public expenditure towards alleviating poverty. Many people have seem to forgotten that the success of HK in the past have been our adherence to free market principles and many of those who are economically successful today were immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s who started from scratch. The populism culture in HK politics today means that politicians tend to promote egalitarianism at the expense of the economy. I think a clear message need to be sent out to the people that if you think you cannot survive or afford to do well in HK then you ought to give second thought as to whether HK is really suitable for you. Ask not what the govt. can do do for you, but what can you contribute to the society?
Kailim
I am old enough to having witnessed the ups and downs of Hong Kong.
Probably since 1960s the undemocratic governor David Trench appointed by London handpicked a bunch of elites from the business sector to sit in the legislative and executive councils. The decisions and policies were therefore conducive to businessmen. The then jobless rate was virtually zero due to economic bloom as a result of the businessmen's policies. I still yearn for the then councillors Chung Sze-yuen and Allen Lee. We had miracles from the 1970s. This type of politics carried on until the last undemocratic governor Chris Patten.
During late 1990s I had the chance to chat with an Englishman who was a senior official in the government. He told me that they couldn't copy the successful example of Hong Kong back in the UK, because they couldn't replace the House of Commons with handpicked businessmen. At that time Hong Kong was poising to surpass the UK PPPwise.
Wang could be right, may be just for the sake of Hong Kong's economy.
keresearch
capitalism is not about protecting business people, that is what communism does. It is about the system for allocating capital. Hence the term
johnh
"The public is free to discuss all ideas, but the government cannot introduce anything not allowed in the law,"
But it's OK when the Communist government tries to introduce new items into the law?!?! **** off, real Hong Konger's will decide for ourselves how to interpret our own laws.
chuchu59
This is so ridiculous. When was the reverse true? Big businesses have dominated for decades and when ordinary folks are starting to have a voice we are told to spare a thought for businesses. Even the good ole USA with its capitalist roots will not have someone say such a thing. With their $$$$$ the big bosses will always have a say. With universal suffrage its only getting to even stevens not that ordinary people are dominating big businesses. Pffft.
Dao-Phooy
Oh, poor billionaires need to have their voices heard? A mainland law scholar lecturing us on the poor minority and how we must continue to support capitalism in HK? Good joke - his comments gave me a huge laugh!
DinGao
Meritocracy in HK politics? If we ever had any, it is long gone.

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