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Mainstream opinion key to electoral reform in Hong Kong, CY Leung tells NPC

Chief Executive's report to the NPC suggests that the Hong Kong public generally backs the government line on universal suffrage in 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2014, 11:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 2:33pm
 

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"Mainstream opinion" in Hong Kong holds that only a nominating committee should have the power to put forward chief executive candidates and that such power must not be "undermined or bypassed", the chief executive has told Beijing.

In his report to the National People's Congress Standing Committee - the first step of a long march towards universal suffrage in 2017 - Leung Chun-ying said the public "generally agreed" that the chief executive had to be a person who "loves the country and loves Hong Kong".

Further suggesting that the public backs the government line, he said it would also agree that reform proposals should be drawn up in accordance with the Basic Law and the decisions of the Standing Committee.

Watch: Students respond to Carrie Lam's report on universal suffrage for Hong Kong in 2017

While the report did not specifically rule out allowing voters to nominate candidates, it failed to please lawmakers from either side of the political spectrum, who met at a two-hour special Legislative Council meeting yesterday.

Leung made vague references to Occupy Central's unofficial plebiscite and the mass rally on July 1, both backing the right of voters to nominate candidates, as well as the Bar Association's statement in April saying this would not comply with the Basic Law.

READ: CY Leung 'will leave the slaughter of public nomination to Beijing'

"Although there were professional bodies … pointing out … that 'civic nomination' was not in compliance with the Basic Law, it is worth noting that there were still considerable views after the conclusion of the public consultation that … 'civic nomination' should be included in the nominating procedures," he wrote.

Some Beijing-loyalist lawmakers questioned why officials appeared hesitant in dismissing public or "civic" nomination, while pan-democrats condemned the report for ignoring public demands for "genuine" universal suffrage.

I did reflect the views expressed by these people to the central authorities
Leung Chun-ying

Pan-democrats also criticised the report for concluding that society "generally agreed" there was no need to amend the Basic Law in preparing for the Legislative Council election in 2016 - which means functional constituencies would continue to make up half the 70-strong legislature.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting - founder of the civil-disobedience movement Occupy Central said the report failed to reflect the public's demand "accurately".

The Standing Committee is expected to approve electoral reform next month, before the Hong Kong government starts a fresh public consultation before the end of the year. The eventual government proposal will need a two-thirds majority in Legco - meaning Leung must win over some pan-democrats.

The Federation of Students and Scholarism also said they would prepare for civil disobedience, but would wait for the NPC's decision next month before deciding on whether to put them into practice.

Leung said in a press conference: "Many people took part in rallies and a civic poll … The government fully understood their opinion … and I did reflect the views expressed by these people to the central authorities."

 


KEY POINTS

  • Government reports on political reform do not explicitly rule out public nomination but say mainstream view is that universal suffrage for chief executive election must adhere strictly to Basic Law.
  • It is generally agreed there is no need to amend Basic Law on 2016 Legco election, reports say. 
  • Student activists vow to launch civil disobedience action if NPC standing committee fails to promise a nomination without screening.

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