DAB sparks democrat fury with 2017 poll proposals for chief executive

Candidates would have to get backing of more than half the nominating committee, leading democrats to warn of full-on confrontation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 April, 2014, 4:40am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 April, 2014, 4:31pm

The main pro-Beijing party says candidates for the 2017 chief executive election  should have to get the backing of more than half the nominating committee, leading pan-democrats to promise a “full political confrontation” if the suggestion was adopted.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong also want a block-voting system in the committee, which the pan-democrats say would allow “full-scale manipulation” of the choice of candidates.

Majority support of the nominating committee and the block-voting system “have been the requirements intended by Beijing according to our understanding since we started reform deliberations”, a member of the DAB’s electoral reform panel said.

The party plans to present its proposal at the end of the month but says it is ready to change it if the pan-democrats reach a compromise in their meeting with Beijing officials in Shanghai this weekend.

“Pan-democrats can never accept such a proposal,” Alliance for True Democracy convenor Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek said. “If that really represents the view of Beijing ... we have no choice but to prepare for full political confrontation.”

Under such a system, “any political power dominating the nominating committee would be able to control the whole candidate list”.

The alliance, consisting of 26 of the 27 pan-democrat lawmakers, has proposed a three-track system by which candidates could be chosen by public nomination open to all voters or through support from parties. 

Cheng said that while the Occupy Central movement would be “an important element” of any confrontation, the pan-democrats would show patience and sincerity in talks with Beijing.

Earlier, party veteran Ip Kwok-him proposed that candidates backed by 10 per cent of the committee would be put to an internal ballot where members could cast one to four votes.

The proposal contemplated by the DAB panel, which consists of some 10 members and formed in December, wants an even higher threshold.

A panel member said that under its system, “if the number of formal candidates is capped at three, the block-voting system means nominating committee members have to cast exactly three votes or else their vote would be invalidated”.

While the panel member added that Beijing “required a high level of predictability over the election”, the party was willing to make concessions if Beijing made any last-minute changes.

The final suggestion will be tabled for endorsement by the DAB’s central committee on April 22. The government’s reform consultation ends on May 3.