Thanks, but no thanks: pan-democrat leader on lobbying for foreign support

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 4:10am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 7:47am

A leader of the pan-democratic camp has refused to follow in the footsteps of two veteran democracy stalwarts in lobbying for foreign governments' support to achieve universal suffrage in Hong Kong.

Saying that he "appreciates" and "thanks" former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming for their recent two-week visit to the United States and Canada - during which they met US Vice-President Joe Biden - Joseph Cheng Yu-shek said he had no plan to follow suit.

"I personally will not do the same for fear that it may become an excuse for the pro-establishment camp to attack us during the constitutional reform's consultation period," said Cheng, convenor of the Alliance for True Democracy. The consultation ends in less than two weeks.

It may become an excuse for the pro-establishment camp to attack us
Joseph Cheng Yu-shek

The North America visit was met with fierce criticism from communist mouthpieces over the weekend, with Global Times and the overseas edition of People's Daily running caustic editorials condemning the pair for making themselves the political "opposition" for "all of China".

But others in the camp who have taken a more co-operative line with Beijing also face pressure. "Super seat" lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee, of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, said yesterday he faced opposition from his own group when he decided to meet central government officials with nine other pan-democrats in Shanghai this month.

But he insisted that this was the right course of action.

"Some people view discussions with Beijing as a sin, but I believe there is a need to discuss the issues with policymakers, to communicate with and to understand each other," he said.

Fung proposed that members of the nominating committee - which will choose candidates for the 2017 chief executive election - be elected by all 3.7 million eligible voters.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Manufacturers' Association, a Beijing-friendly business chamber, stressed yesterday that each of the committee's four sectors - one of them industry, commerce and finance - needed to be equally represented in order to uphold the "balanced participation" stipulated in the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution.

Speaking on TVB's On the Record, the association's vice-president Jimmy Ng Wing-ka said he learned from the Oxford English Dictionary that a "committee" would not accept something like "public nomination" - an idea that some pan-democrats are still clinging to - because by its nature, a committee empowered only a small group of people to make decisions.