• Sat
  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 9:34am
NewsHong Kong

Universal suffrage not same as direct election, Maria Tam tells city

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 February, 2014, 4:46am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 February, 2014, 1:20pm

Some Hongkongers may be confused about the meaning of full democracy, a leading Beijing loyalist said yesterday. And a mainland academic said a vote for hand-picked candidates would still deliver universal suffrage.

Peking University law school professor Wang Lei told a forum in Hong Kong that the chief executive could be deemed elected by universal suffrage in 2017 as long as there were no "unreasonable restrictions" on the right to vote.

He ruled out any notion of the public nominating chief executive candidates, as demanded by many pan-democrats.

"The universal suffrage stated in the Basic Law's Article 45 concerns the right to vote … It was made clear that the nominating committee is the only official body [empowered] to put forward candidates," Wang said.

Also speaking at the forum, Basic Law Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu agreed. She said it was "possible" some Hongkongers were confused about universal suffrage.

"According to international … conventions, universal suffrage means voters' [rights] should not be restricted unreasonably … while a direct election means there shouldn't be any medium [working between voters and candidates] making the election indirect; they are two different ideas," Tam said.

But senior counsel and Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah disagreed with the pair.

"Wang might not have a clear understanding of Hong Kong's situation, because all he's doing is insisting on the legal perspective - that only the nominating committee can nominate," Tong said.

On the extent of the committee's power, he said that while the right to nominate need not be universal and equal, it must be "reasonable" because "citizens' right to vote and be elected could be weakened by any unreasonable restriction in the nominating process".

Tong suggested that Hongkongers have a say in putting forward candidates rather than leaving the choice to the nominating committee.

Speaking on the sidelines of the forum, Wang also said all Hongkongers, not just the chief executive, should love their country. "For example, [they should] respect the country, the local and central governments, the State Council, the National People's Congress [and] the People's Liberation Army's local garrison," he said.

Separately, pro-Beijing group the Voice of Loving Hong Kong tabled its proposal for political reform. It suggested the nominating committee comprise 2,400 members, double the number on the current election committee, who would be elected by an expanded group comprising more company directors, professionals and labour union members.

But in contrast with Tong's call for at least seven candidates to be put forward by the committee, the group capped the number at four.


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This article is now closed to comments

Beijing should realize that rolling out Maria Tam is simply a waste of time. This woman has nothing to say of any value whatsoever - failed barrister who couldn't put forward an argument to save anybody. Beijing might consider sacking her as she is useless as an advocate!!!
If this passes for the academic or legal elite these days, it is a crying shame. There is active and passive suffrage. Passive suffrage is the right to vote, based on a one-man-one-vote principle. Active suffrage is the right to run for elected office. Universal suffrage, unless specified otherwise (eg 'only passive universal suffrage'), includes both the right to vote for all, and the right to run for office for all.

It is simple and straightforward. These 'interpretations' of such simple, unambiguous definition are nonsense. If you don't want to give HK what the Basic Law promises based on your Chinese Communist Party anti-democratic loyalty , then say so and don't hide behind these Kafkaesque word games.
mo yung
This is so typical of communists and fascists. " You may choose freely from our ballot of candidates. You may choose any one candidate on the ballot, from comrade A through comrade G. If that is not clear to you, let us explain it to you in corrupted legalese."
Maria Tam strikes again with her re-invention of concepts. Now she is re-engineering the concept of "universal suffrage".
"Some Hongkongers may be confused about the meaning of full democracy, a leading Beijing loyalist said yesterday."
---I think it's the loyalist who has it all wrong. What good is the right to vote if the list of people standing for election is rigged?
Beijing cronies falling back on what Basic Law said, rather than offering a convincing and logical argument, is a farce that will be played over many times more in the next few months.
Dai Muff
"Universal suffrage with Chinese characteristics." In other words, not universal suffrage at all. The Basic Law often seems not worth the paper it was written on.
As a barrister of the 80s she was rude and condescending and would force her opinions on people, berating them if they didn't fall in line.
What does MT know about democracy? Twisting meanings to suit her own agenda. People want universal suffrage and relate it to democracy which is right. If most people vouch for universal suffrage the loyalists should stop the rot and try to twist meanings for their own purposes.
Hong Kong will never be democratic as long as the CCP dictatorship in Beijing continues. The narrow definition of patriotism insisted on by the dictatorship's apologists is nauseating and wholly incompatible with real democracy.
It's always interesting to see when Mainland academics, who are a significant part of the Chinese communist system and have been educated and nurtured by the communist system, try to teach the concepts of democracy and how it shall work.
It's like the Pope teaches in a sexual education course the practical usage of birth control .



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