• Sat
  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 6:01am
NewsHong Kong

Henry Tang urges realistic proposal for 2017 chief executive election

Former chief secretary and the beaten front runner in 2012 suggests reforms should be conservative to ensure Beijing's blessing

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2014, 11:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 April, 2014, 5:06pm

Beaten chief executive hopeful Henry Tang Ying-yen has warned Hongkongers to expect a "tightly regulated" election in 2017 as he put forward electoral reform proposals he said were more "conservative" than he truly wanted.

And the former chief secretary, beaten by Leung Chun-ying in 2012 amid a scandal over an illegal "underground palace" at his home, said he would not run when the public chooses the city's leader for the first time.

Tang's proposal includes a cap on the number of candidates and a system under which members of the nominating committee will have multiple votes and choose candidates as a collective. He called for debate on whether a candidate with support from as little as one-eighth of the committee members should be able to stand, as in previous elections when the winner was elected by the 1,200-strong body.

"[Beijing officials] have said … the nominating committee shall put forward candidates as an institution, and it means the candidates have to be representative," said Tang, a member of the standing committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. "Is it representative enough, if you only have 100 to 200 nominations?"

His comments are likely to stoke concerns among pan-democrats that the nominating committee will "screen" critics of Beijing out of the election.

The government consultation on reform ends next month, and the National People's Congress Standing Committee is expected to give its blessing to the reform process in August.

But Tang warned Hongkongers not to expect too much. "Because this is the first time we're having universal suffrage, meaning 'one man, one vote', [nomination] arrangements will be fairly tightly regulated," Tang said.

"Of course I'd like to see a more open [process], but on the other hand, I believe I am realistic because I have a lot of experience in electoral arrangements," he added, referring to his success in 2010 in steering through reform after a deal with Democratic Party lawmakers secured a two-thirds majority in the legislature.

Asked why pan-democrats, who favour letting the public pick candidates, should support his idea, Tang said: "My proposal is a fairly conservative one … but political parties must consider whether, on a train to democracy, one should get on board first."

Tang also discussed Leung's administration, and did little to ease concern about a split between his supporters and backers of the chief executive.

He urged Leung to "work harder on uniting society" and said Hongkongers felt "disturbed" about press freedom, apparently a reference to the brutal attack on former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau Chun-to.

"In Western democracies, the winners usually strive for, as a first priority, to unify society … I hope Leung can continue to work hard, because he hasn't been doing enough on this.

"There is much uneasiness … about the handling of several policy issues," he added, citing the refusal to grant a free-to-air television licence to Hong Kong Television Network - against the advice of the communications watchdog. But on housing, Tang said: "Many of [Leung's] policies are actually good."

Tang, 62, said he felt he would be too old to run in 2017 and favoured a younger candidate. He would encourage "anyone willing, capable and virtuous" to run. Asked whether the incumbent met the criteria, he added: "It isn't for me to decide."


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This article is now closed to comments

A Hong Konger
It should be clear to anyone awake in HK that, as far as the people of HK are concerned, the ill conceived 'one country, two systems' policy and the Basic Law are dead. We no longer see the Basic Law as protecting us, but as an instrument of our growing oppression. It will continue to die a very long and painful death as our elected and unelected officials and Beijing tussle over how best to interpret a document that is designed to be open to interpretation by the stronger power - Beijing, while the antagonisms in society against the power brokers grow to untenable levels.
What is also clear is that despite the tactics of intimidation Beijing has employed for decades, they fear us or we would have gone the way of Tibet. How can China remain legitimate if it can't entice or threaten us into willing joining China? So they work to strip us of our identity on many fronts and silence our voices, but it only makes us more determined.
Time is quickly running out for China to legitimise themselves, we will not back down on reform because we cannot afford to. For China's part they feel they cannot afford to back down either, but if they do not and antagonisms go past a certain point, I fear for the future for all of us.
Tang is a gutless buffoon. Faced with adversity, back down and co-operate, or ask the wife to step up to the plate.
given the talent on show here who take free CX junkets & browse tixxy pictures during Legco meetings on the Budget, morons like the basement oaf who should be in jail, not before a microphone, we might be better off to have China send us a high flyer to rescue this place from our current stock and the likes of the DAB
Why is he speaking up himself and not asking his wife to come out to speak for him?...........
Ah yes, Henry Footnote-of-History Tang, known for his infallible connections with Beijing. The man who really knows what is going on, except in his own basement.
Being "realistic" does ring true. Each promise Beijing has made has been scaled back if not outright reneged. So why expect the promise for universal suffrage would be any different. I guess we should be realistic in knowing not to trust the masters or their appointed stooges. Wow, does that not just give you a warm fuzzy feeling. And now Hong Kong can take its rightful place as the 6th largest city in China.
So much talk of realism from this no-hoper. Dont tell me his views are a trade-off from letting him off the hook. Should he have been sincere, he could have come up with his own proposal based on what he believes is a realistic version. Oh wait, he wont be able to relay his proposal out in words as have been proven in the past.
Please spare us! Maria Tam, Elsie Leung, Professor Rao and now a really big gun - Henry Tang? Pitiful!
when can we expect to see Bowtie, the buffoon and other failed overpaid Government abusers in court on misconduct in public office charges ?
the Hedley index shows people dying from continued pollution
what was resolved during the past administration's tenure = it actually got worse
Is that manslaughter ?
Hi! To defend democracy, justice and human rights in China, I just started a petition on the White House petitions site, WethePeople. Will you sign it? http wh.gov/lp6Jzor https petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/urge-chinas-authority-comply-udhr-and-ratify-iccpr-benefit-everyone-world/hXqnNyJwThank you for your support for the common good!



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