HKU law professor takes middle ground in electoral reform plan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 5:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 10:48am

A University of Hong Kong law professor has put forth a compromise electoral reform plan that he believes would be compatible with both the Basic Law and international standards of democracy.

Although Professor Michael Davis' plan for the 2017 chief executive poll dispensed with pan-democrats' call to allow registered voters to nominate candidates, it proposes "public recommendation" - a non-binding practice allowing voters to suggest hopefuls to the committee.

The constitutional law expert announced his reform proposal in an open letter to Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor yesterday.

He suggested setting up an independent working group, headed by a judiciary member, to make recommendations on how to make the nominating committee broadly representative. His plan proposes substantially increasing the committee's overall electoral base to allow most voters who want to vote for its members to do so.

Davis also suggested putting to public ballot anyone who secured 12.5 per cent of committee members' support. And anyone who secures 10,000 voters' signatures should also be given consideration by the committee.

"It just gives [nominators] a good-faith obligation as part of their duties to give such public support consideration in making their choice," he said.

Davis criticised suggestions to cap the number of candidates and to allow block voting, an idea floated by Beijing loyalists. Block voting would let each committee member cast multiple votes to name candidates, meaning a hopeful would need majority support to become a candidate.

"With these frequent statements, one cannot blame many Hong Kong people for insisting on [public] nomination," he said.

Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said the society should start discussing the structure of the nominating committee in case public nomination can not be achieved.

He said a low nominating threshold was key to preventing screening, as the non-binding public recommendation could be ignored and candidates screened out.

Beijing-friendly lawmaker Ip Kwok-him said the plan was worth exploring as long as it did not require the committee to endorse all suggested candidates.