Old foes welcome Anson Chan's reform proposal

Former chief secretary's ideas for 2017 impress lawmakers … but officials remain silent

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 1:02pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 March, 2014, 4:53am

An electoral reform plan by former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang yesterday won some rare praise from old critics in the Beijing-loyalist camp.

The plan by Chan's HK2020 group rejects calls to let the public nominate chief executive hopefuls when universal suffrage arrives in 2017 and posits a more representative, 1,400-strong nominating committee. It was released on Thursday.

Lawmakers raised Chan's plan with central and local government officials at a meeting yesterday, with some expressing hope it could help break a stalemate on reform.

"The proposal from Anson Chan … has leapt out in the current debate," Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Chan Yuen-han said after the meeting.

Pan-democrat lawmaker Charles Mok said Beijing loyalist lawmakers had been "positive" towards the proposal by Chan, a former lawmaker with close ties to the pan-democratic camp.

"But none of the liaison [office] or local officials responded to Anson Chan's proposal," Mok said. Officials present at the third in a series of breakfast meetings included Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who leads the government's reform drive, and Dr Liu Xinkui, legal chief at Beijing's liaison office.

Chan's plan would see 317 members of the nominating committee - the body stipulated by the Basic Law to choose candidates - elected directly by the public. Any candidate who picked up nominations from more than 10 per cent of its members would be able to run.

Constitutional affairs chief Raymond Tam Chi-yuen said more time was needed for officials to reply to Chan's idea. "[Liu] has not yet had the time to read through the proposals," he said.

Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, one of 13 lawmakers who attended, said she wanted pan-democrats' to have their home return permits, enabling them to travel to the mainland, returned. Chan Yuen-han said she hoped to lobby Beijing officials on the issue.

Meanwhile, Anson Chan told RTHK yesterday she hoped her idea would bridge a "sharp divide" on reform. Acknowledging many Hongkongers wanted the right to nominate candidates, she said: "The reality is that electoral reform requires endorsement from two-thirds of lawmakers and the central government".