Universal suffrage

'Ambiguous and unscientific': critics pour scorn on electoral reform reports

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 2:29am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 8:26am

The two reports on political reform released by the government yesterday are unscientific and lack credibility, a scholar, a lawmaker and a barrister maintain.

Ambiguous terms rather than an accurate number were used to generalise the public views, while there was no mention of the 800,000 votes cast in an unofficial referendum organised by Occupy Central, they said.

The South China Morning Post found many authors behind the public submissions were only referred to anonymously, with many asked not to disclose their identities. "I cannot see how the report has come up with its conclusion of 'mainstream opinion'," said Chinese University political scientist Dr Ma Ngok.

Delivered by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to lawmakers and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to Beijing, both documents sum up some 124,000 submissions made during a five-month consultation on how the city should elect its leader.

The reports state that Hongkongers "generally agree" that reform should be strictly in accordance with the Basic Law, and that the next chief executive should be a person who "loves the country and loves Hong Kong". Terms such as "quite a number of views" and "considerable views" have been used to describe the support for maintaining the 1,200-strong Election Committee as the nominating body for chief executive, and for expanding its membership.

There is no mention of the Occupy poll, or the July 1 pro-democracy rally, but the report does state that "a number of groups and members of the public" expressed "divergent" views after the consultation period "through different ways and channels".

Lam stressed: "The reports reflect ... the opinions as they were. The government did not disregard any opinion because it is expressed by only one group or being the minority view."

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen said the way government summarises opinions in these reports was in accordance with the usual practice in other public consultations. Quantifying the support of different options by the number of people would not be fair, he said.

But Ma said: "The terms being used in the reports are very ambiguous and lack scientific base."

While many submitted opinions anonymously, others used only surnames or nicknames, and some submissions were repeat entries, the Post found.

Organisations from various sectors also put forward submissions, with many having authors with Beijing connections. They include the Hong Kong Chinese Importers and Exporters Association, Hua Jing Society, Federation of Hong Kong Guangdong Community Organisations, Chinese Entrepreneurs Organisation and others.

Health sector lawmaker Dr Joseph Lee Kok-long accused the government of ignoring the voices of 510,000 people who joined the July 1 rally, and the 800,000 referendum voters.

Barrister Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said the government should properly explain how it came up with its conclusion and the weight the consultation attaches to the 800,000 Occupy "referendum" votes.

Additional reporting by Lo Wei and Joyce Ng


How the key questions on political reform are addressed in the two reports

Are there particular criteria for candidates for chief executive?

The community generally agrees that the chief executive should be a person who "loves the country and loves Hong Kong".

How many people should form the nominating committee for naming chief executive candidates, and how should it be formed?

There are relatively more views that the composition of the nominating committee should be decided by reference to the existing four sectors of the election committee in equal proportions.

What is the minimum number of nominating committee members one must gain [support from] in order to be permitted to stand in the election?

There are a number of views that a person contending for nomination has to obtain support from at least a certain proportion of nominating committee members. Some consider that the nomination threshold should remain at one-eighth of the membership. There are civic and party nomination proposals.

How many candidates should the nominating committee select for the chief executive election?

There are two views. One is that it is necessary to fix the number of candidates. The other is that there is no need to restrict the number of candidates.

Do members of the public outside the nominating committee have a right to nominate candidates?

A number of groups and members of the public expressed their aspirations concerning the implementation of universal suffrage for the chief executive election through different ways and channels, and their views remain divergent. But the power to nominate chief executive candidates is vested in the nominating committee only.

How should the Legislative Council be reformed for the next election in 2016?

The public generally agrees that efforts should now be focused on the chief executive election method. As relatively substantial amendments were made for Legco reform in 2012, it is generally agreed that there is no need to amend Annex II of the Basic Law regarding the method for forming Legco in 2016.