Radicals admit moderate proposals would give voters ‘genuine choice’

Concern after Occupy shortlist for political reform insists on public nomination

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 11:55am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 11:55am

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The radical groups behind two of the three political reform proposals to be put to a public vote next month admit moderate plans should also be included.

The proposals from student-led groups Scholarism and the Alliance for True Democracy were among the shortlist chosen by some 2,500 supporters of Occupy Central on Tuesday’s “deliberation day” for its civil referendum scheduled next month.

But both – and the third winning proposal from radical pan-democrats People Power – allow voters to nominate candidates for chief executive in 2017, which Beijing has ruled out.

Scholarism’s convenor Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Alliance’s Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek agreed people could have a real choice if moderate plans proposing that public nomination was not a must was included in the vote scheduled June 20-22.

“In principle I hope there would be more proposals for people’s choice on June 22,” said Wong at Commercial Radio today. “But I respect the arrangement because it is a consensus reached in the first and second deliberation days.”

He was referring to the sessions where Occupy supporters gathered and discussed how to push forward democracy, as part of the civil disobedience plan. The poll took place after the third deliberation day on Tuesday.

But the arrangement sparked concerns from fellow pan-democrats, including former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, whose moderate proposals missed the cut.

Hong Kong 2020, an advocacy group which Chan convenes, said that by endorsing only plans involving public nomination “a relatively small and unrepresentative group of political activists has effectively disenfranchised a large section of the community who do not want to be led down a path towards direct confrontation with the central government”.

Cheng admitted options other than public nomination were available.

“Not only public nomination … there are many options which allow people to have a genuine choice,” he said. The alliance’s three-track proposal allows political parties, the public or the nominating committee to pick candidates.

Under plans sponsored by Scholarism – together with the Federation of Students – and People Power, a candidate would need nominations from 1 per cent of the electorate, or from a proportion of elected lawmakers or district councillors, to make the cut.

Tuesday’s vote has also triggered discontent from within the alliance, formed by 26 out of 27 pan-democratic lawmakers, as member groups People Power and League of Social Democrats reneged on their promise to push for the alliance’s proposals.

While the Democratic Party said last night they would “contemplate a quit”, Cheng said: “At least People Power and the League have more conversations with the Democrats now, and we meet once per week,” said Cheng of the group formed 15 months ago. “The rift was not worse than when the alliance was just formed.”

He said the group’s dissolution is destructive for the fight for democracy. “When we can stay together for one more moment, hang in there.”