Election proposals by Bank of China aimed at encouraging staff to 'fulfil civic responsibilities'
The Bank of China's Hong Kong branch insisted it was only "encouraging" staff to "express their personal view voluntarily" when it distributed copies of political reform proposals for its employees to endorse.
The proposals included three possible models for the nominating committee to use when it puts forward candidates for the 2017 chief executive election, all of which would probably be opposed by the pan-democrats.
The state-owned bank also suggested staff endorse the suggestion that "no change" was needed for the Legislative Council election in 2016.
The bank's proposals for the chief executive election included requiring candidates to secure at least 30 per cent support of the nominating committee before being able to run.
Pan-democrats claim a high threshold would mean critics of Beijing would be "screened" out of the election, due to be the first run under universal suffrage. They want the public and political parties to be allowed to nominate candidates.
An alternative suggested by the bank was for staff members to support "block-voting", under which each committee member would have three votes and three million Hongkongers would choose from the top three candidates endorsed by at least half of the committee members.
Another alternative it suggested was for candidates to be endorsed by "a certain proportion" of each of the four sectors making up the committee.
In 2012, then Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan took part in the chief executive election with backing from about one-sixth of the election committee's 1,193 members.
Ho's nominations were concentrated in the professional and social sectors, while members from the business and political sectors mainly supported Henry Tang Ying-yen and eventual winner Leung Chun-ying.
In its circular, the bank said staff could write down their own recommendations if they disagreed with the three options.
A bank spokeswoman said yesterday that its welfare and recreation association was encouraging staff members to "fulfil their civil responsibilities" by "raising personal views voluntarily" in the government's consultation on political reform.
But a manager in another state-funded bank said he believed staff would have felt pressured to sign the proposals.
"Some departmental chiefs might be more aggressive and concerned about the management's impression, and they might pressure subordinates to sign it," the manager said.