Ignore our wishes for 2017 and we'll occupy, students warn government

Young leaders will consider non-violent action if government rejects reform plan to allow nominees who have support of 35,000 voters

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2014, 5:45am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2014, 5:45am

Student leaders warned yesterday that they would not rule out engaging in non-violent civil disobedience if the government rejects their proposal to allow the public to nominate candidates for the chief executive election.

Student-led activist group Scholarism and the Federation of Students issued the warning as they tabled a joint reform proposal for the 2017 election.

Both groups called for anyone who secures the written support of 1 per cent of Hong Kong voters - some 35,000 people - to be allowed to enter the race. The Alliance for True Democracy has proposed the same threshold.

Beijing officials told pan-democrat lawmakers on Sunday that there was no chance public nomination would be accepted by the central government.

Scholarism's convenor Joshua Wong Chi-fung said he hoped the proposal would be backed in the citywide "referendum" to be organised by Occupy Central on June 22.

"If the government rejects such a proposal, which could be endorsed by 100,000 residents, that would be [tantamount] to trampling on public opinion and insulting the public," Wong said. "[If that happens] Scholarism and the Federation of Students will consider all kinds of nonviolent action."

The student groups also suggested a model for the nominating committee. It would consist of 35 directly elected lawmakers, and any hopeful would also be allowed to run if they could win the support of at least 8 per cent, or three out of the 35.

If no candidate wins 50 per cent or more support in the election, the top two candidates would enter a second-round run-off.

The federation's secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang said the proposal "will not just manifest the spirit of social equality, but also let Hongkongers regain control of their right to nominate, to elect and to be elected".

Chow dismissed a proposal from academics that the public only be allowed to make non-binding recommendations of candidates to the nominating committee, saying it would "empower the privileged class in the nominating committee to veto the recommendations".

The federation also rejected former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang's proposal for the public to elect 317 members of a 1,400-strong nominating committee.

Meanwhile, two Beijing-loyalist bodies tabled their own reform proposals. The Chinese Manufacturers' Association, one of the city's four major chambers, said the nominating committee should have between 1,200 and 1,600 members.

The 160,000-member Kowloon Federation of Associations proposed a 1,200-member committee that would put forward, at most, four candidates.