Pro-Beijing legal expert backs Bar Association's rejection of high barrier to nomination

Pro-Beijing barrister joins Bar in view that 50 per cent threshold may breach Basic Law

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 May, 2014, 3:39am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 4:42pm

A pro-Beijing legal expert has backed the Bar Association's view that requiring 2017 chief executive candidates to win 50 per cent support from the nominating committee could be unconstitutional.

"The 50 per cent [threshold] is not intended in the principles of the Basic Law," Alan Hoo SC, Basic Law Institute chairman, said yesterday.

At an RTHK forum, Hoo said he largely agreed with the views of the Bar, including its rejection of the high barrier to nomination advocated by many of his fellow Beijing loyalists.

The barristers' 44-page submission to the public consultation on electoral reform, made on Monday, said requiring a "simple majority" of nominating committee members to put forward candidates might not "pass muster". Bar chairman Paul Shieh Wing-tai clarified that such a requirement "could run the risk of being unconstitutional".

The submission also rejected granting all voters nomination rights in some form.

While Hoo, a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress, said the Bar's opinions set the legal framework for reform, fellow speaker and former Bar chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said the association "is not the law".

"Respect the rule of law but don't take the Bar Association's electoral reform submission as the law," said Eu, of the Civic Party. "There are other international academics who find public nomination viable."

Eu believes it would be constitutional to put "reasonable restrictions" on the committee.

The Bar says the idea would impede the nominating committee's power, as set out in the Basic Law, to put forward candidates.

Separately, Alliance for True Democracy convenor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek insisted on the viability of public nomination. "If a constitutional document cannot fully respect people's political rights, there might be a need for amendment," Cheng said.

The alliance, made up of 26 of the 27 pan-democratic lawmakers, has proposed a three-track nomination system that would allow the public, parties and the nominating committee to put forward candidates for the election.

An earlier version of this article stated that Alan Hoo was the Basic Law Committee chairman. He is in fact the Basic Law Institute chairman. We apologise for the error.