Pan-democrats attach strings to joining lawmakers' visit to mainland

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 11:53am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 8:34am

Pan-democrats have softened their stance towards joining a lawmakers' trip to Shanghai next month to discuss electoral reforms, but have set conditions on their attendance.

They said yesterday they would consider taking part if three criteria were met. First, they want a meeting between pan-democrats and the Beijing officials who are directly in charge of the city's political reform.

Other conditions are that meetings with the officials must be exclusive, and that those same officials must comment on the pan-democrats' proposals for nominating chief executive candidates, including the right for voters to put forward candidates.

The pan-democrats' requests were spelled out by Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing after a meeting with Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing yesterday, in which Tsang advised them to list their demands for discussion by Legco's House Committee.

This came after a 90-minute breakfast meeting with the legal chief of Beijing's liaison office, Dr Liu Xinkui, which pan-democrats say lacked "interaction".

It was the first of four meetings to be hosted by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

"Pan-democrats only had about 15 minutes to reiterate our stance, and the pro-establishment lawmakers quickly countered us," Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun said.

The Labour Party, which initially said it would boycott the visit to meet Beijing officials over reforms, said yesterday it would consider taking part if the three conditions were met.

"We would take part in the visit as long as pan-democrats are not simply ornaments to the trip," party vice-chairwoman Cyd Ho Sau-lan said.

Leader Lee Cheuk-yan said the party had changed its stance for the sake of unity, but he would not join unless he got back his confiscated home-return permit.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said already that the visiting lawmakers would meet Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei and the director of Beijing's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Wang Guangya . And he promised yesterday to arrange an exclusive meeting between the pair and the pan-democrats - implying that two of the three conditions were likely to be met.

But Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, refused to say whether his party would support the three requirements on Friday when the Legco House Committee discussed the trip.

"I am OK with the pan-democrats' request for an exclusive meeting with Li and Wang, but I think they're asking too much if they are saying that they won't go to Shanghai unless Beijing says 'yes' to all three requests."