Liberal academics push compromise plan for 2017 election without public nomination

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 6:16am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 5:52pm

A group of 18 liberal-minded academics, including the head of the government's fund to fight poverty, will unveil a compromise proposal this week in the hope of making the 2017 chief executive election more democratic.

The blueprint, spearheaded by the vice-chairman of the SynergyNet think tank, Dr Brian Fong Chi-hang, and Community Care Fund chairman Dr Law Chi-kwong, dispenses with public nomination, a point that radical pan-democrats consider is indispensable.

The academics, including some close to the pan-democratic camp, suggest creating a 1,200-member nominating committee to name candidates for a "one man, one vote" election.

Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a principal law lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, is among the academics backing the idea.

It is yet another proposal that rejects public nomination, which has been dismissed by mainland officials and experts as inconsistent with the Basic Law. The academics hope to make the process more democratic while complying with Hong Kong's mini-constitution.

It comes after Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah and former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang also omitted the idea in their recent proposals.

Under the latest proposal, to be announced on Wednesday, votes given to business and professional groups would be replaced with individual ballots.

"Insisting on proposals which are blatantly inconsistent with the Basic Law will only offer Beijing excuses to reject them outright, without having to respond seriously to the rising aspirations for democracy," Fong said. "We shouldn't allow Beijing to hide behind the shield of the Basic Law."

He was referring to pan-democrats' calls for public nomination.

"It's more important to ensure a contested chief executive race," said Fong, a political scientist at the Institute of Education.

But their proposal provides the option of public recommendation, in which voters would put forward a shortlist of hopefuls to the nominating committee.

Any hopeful who secured the support of one-eighth of the committee's members could go forward to the popular vote.