Occupy Central

Zhang put on hold as democrats review rift

Lawmakers cancel scheduled meeting with liaison office director after Occupy Central plans force 'drastic change' in reform drive

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2014, 3:51am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2014, 8:21am

Two Democratic Party lawmakers have postponed a meeting scheduled for tomorrow with Beijing's top representative to focus on the widening rift threatening to tear the pan-democratic camp apart.

Central government liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming has invited pan-democrat lawmakers for one-on-one discussions on electoral reform.

The decision came after supporters of Occupy Central shortlisted three plans during a "deliberation day" last week which call for an idea banned by Beijing: allowing public nomination of chief executive hopefuls.

Moderate pan-democrats fear the plans do not offer real choices for Hongkongers in a civil referendum next month.

The Democratic Party is threatening to quit the Alliance for True Democracy - a grouping of 26 out of 27 pan-democratic lawmakers - after radical groups reneged on a promise to support the alliance's three-track proposal in the deliberation exercise.

"We have experienced a drastic change of political situation over the past few days. There are rising tensions between other alliance group members and us after the third deliberation day," said Democrat Dr Helena Wong Pik-wan yesterday. "The [Democratic Party] has to thoroughly reconsider its role in the alliance … and also its relationship with other pan-democrats.

"We believe [these issues] are more important than meeting Zhang at this stage."

Wong, with her party colleague Sin Chung-kai, said they would postpone the meeting to a "suitable time" and the liaison office has expressed its understanding. The party is set to decide whether to stay in the alliance at a meeting on Thursday.

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki also said his party would not accept Zhang's invitation unless he met its six lawmakers together - and not at the liaison office in Sai Wan.

Meanwhile, former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang said she would try her best to work with moderate pan-democrats in pressing for a democratic election model to select the city's next leader in 2017 - even without public nomination.

As a first step, Chan, convenor of think tank Hong Kong 2020, plans to meet five moderate pan-democratic lawmakers, including the Civic Party's Ronny Tong Ka-wah, tomorrow.