Universal suffrage

Lawmakers slam Carrie Lam’s report on public views of political reform

Legislators from across the political spectrum heaped criticism on the chief secretary's report on Tuesday, accusing the government of lacking sincerity

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2014, 5:42pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2014, 7:53pm

Initial reactions from across the political spectrum suggested that few people were satisfied with the chief secretary’s report on political reform delivered on Tuesday.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s report, which summarised public views gathered during a five-month consultation, sought to draw a line under demands for the public to be allowed to nominate chief executive candidates for the 2017 election.

It stated that “mainstream opinion” in Hong Kong was that only a nominating committee should have the power to elect the city’s next leader, while Hongkongers “generally agree” that reform should be strictly in accordance with the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

Watch: Lawmakers throw objects at Carrie Lam during universal suffrage report

It was also a matter of mainstream opinion, according to the report, that the next chief executive should be a person who “loves the country and loves Hong Kong”.

The report further concluded that the public “generally agrees” that there was no need for major reform of the way the Legislative Council is elected, disappointing those who had called for a reduction in or the abolition of functional constituency seats, which are not elected by the general public.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will also deliver a report to Beijing today, marking the first step of the year-long reform process.

Pan-democratic lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung said the government had not sincerely taken public opinion into consideration.

“The report’s conclusion is just the same as the consultation framework,” he said, referring to the goals set out by the government before it invited public responses. “Is it a trap?”

Leung said opinion polls had already suggested that the majority of Hongkongers had backed abolishing functional constituencies and accused the government of dismissing their voices as “non-mainstream views”.

Health sector lawmaker Dr Joseph Lee Kok-long also criticised the report for stating only that “some organisations and people” had called for public nomination.

Almost 800,000 people voted in Occupy Central’s referendum on reform, in which all three options shortlisted allowed for public nomination, while organisers of the July 1 march say more than half a million took part to call for genuine democracy.

“Are you trying to diminish mainstream opinions?” Lee asked Lam.

Charles Mok, a pan-democrat, criticised the omission of concerns about screening of candidates.

Lee Cheuk-yan of the Labour Party led some 20 pan-democratic lawmakers in chanting “genuine universal suffrage without screening” at the end of the two-hour meeting, calling on Lam to listen to the people.

Steven Ho Chun-yin, of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, criticised Lam for not stating that public nomination is illegal in the report. “[The government’s stance] would only waste more time,” he said.

Democrat James To Kun-sun was unhappy that the government had concluded that there was no need to conduct a major overhaul on the election method for the 2016 Legco elections.

“Why don’t we at least decrease the number of seats in the functional constituencies?” he asked.

In reply, Lam said the report’s conclusion had reflected the majority view.

Three more radical pan-democratic lawmakers – the League of Social Democrats’ “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Albert Chan Wai-yip and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen of People Power – were forced out of the Legco meeting room for protesting as Lam delivered her report.

“Abolish functional constituencies! I want public nomination!” Leung Kwok-hung chanted.

He also threw an inflatable hammer at Lam, mocking her earlier controversial remarks that a Beijing-friendly scholar who ruled out public nomination had “set a definitive tone” for the reform debate. Chan tore the report to pieces in front of Lam.

“The deliberation stage over reform has ended. It’s time to take action,” Leung Kwok-hung said, vowing to initiate a non-cooperation campaign that could include calling on Hongkongers to pay HK$10 less tax.