Pan-democrat denies hidden agenda in meeting with Zhang Xiaoming

Independent lawmaker meets Beijing official without telling fellow pan-democrats, but says his actions were conducted in 'full light of day'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 May, 2014, 5:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 May, 2014, 3:48am

An independent lawmaker has denied having any hidden agenda when he went into talks with the central government's top representative in the city on Wednesday without notifying fellow pan-democrats or the media beforehand.

Ip Kin-yuen tried to clear the air a day after he met liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming in a Causeway Bay hotel for almost two hours to press the pan-democratic camp's case for universal suffrage.

Ip, who represents the education sector through the Professional Teachers' Union, said yesterday that "everything was conducted in the full light of day".

"I consulted members of the teachers' union, who agreed I should seize the opportunity for communication with Beijing," he said, speaking alongside union president Fung Wai-wah.

"We are putting every detail of the meeting under the sunlight."

But the pair admitted they were the only ones who knew the time and venue of the session, confirmed on Monday.

"Media workers were not invited because of technical difficulties in accommodating them in a hotel, which does not belong to the union or the liaison office," Ip said. "In hindsight, it might have been better had I given other pan-democrats a heads-up."

He failed to do so, he said, as "pan-democrats had no meetings on Monday or Tuesday", and he "did not message them".

Fung, who drew criticism for "black-box negotiation", or secretive talks, after he met liaison officials during the previous electoral reform debate in 2010, denied trust was an issue.

The union president said: "There does not exist the notion of keeping other pan-democrats in the dark … nor the idea of union members not trusting us."

Cheung Man-kwong, Ip's predecessor in the Legislative Council and a heavyweight in the union, said he had "no prior knowledge of the meeting".

Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing suggested that Ip alert other pan-democrats before releasing any significant message in the future.

Independent lawmaker Kenneth Leung agreed, adding he "would definitely inform fellow pan-democrats and the media before any meeting with Zhang".

Ip said that at the hotel, he reiterated the camp's demand for universal suffrage, free of candidate screening, for the 2017 chief executive poll. "Zhang said any electoral plan had to be recognised by both the central government and the citizens," he said.

But the meeting failed to narrow their differences, Ip said. "It is hard to expect one meeting to create any major breakthrough."

Ip was among 10 pan-democratic lawmakers who visited Shanghai last month to discuss reform with senior Beijing officials. Zhang has since invited pan-democrats - including those who did not go - for one-on-one talks. Dr Joseph Lee Kok-long met Zhang early this month.