Concern group calls on Hong Kong to oppose candidate screening in 2017 election

Former lawmakers and professionals push city to oppose screening in 2017 election rules

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 July, 2014, 4:09am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 July, 2014, 4:55am

A group of liberal-minded professionals has urged the Hong Kong government to press Beijing not to impose a rigid candidate screening framework for the 2017 chief executive election.

Making their plea yesterday, eight members of the Concern Group for Public Opinion on Constitutional Development said strict rules would worsen divisions in society over the political reforms.

The group is worried that Beijing's blueprint, which the National People's Congress Standing Committee is expected to draw up next month, could include a limit on the number of candidates to as few as three and require contenders to get support from as many as half the members of the nominating committee.

The professionals made their plea in a meeting with the government's task force on constitutional reform, headed by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

"I told Carrie Lam and other officials that such a move would escalate the tension over political reform," said group member Tik Chi-yuen, a former Democratic Party lawmaker.

"I urged them to convey my concern to Beijing."

But New People's Party lawmaker and NPC delegate Michael Tien Puk-sun said the standing committee's ruling would inevitably include screening, which even moderate pan-democrats would not accept.

"It doesn't make sense if there is a nomination committee but no screening," Tien said yesterday. "That would make it tough for pan-democratic lawmakers, as some 800,000 people voted to say they don't want universal suffrage with screening."

The 15-strong concern group includes three Democratic Party members as well as Centaline Property Agency boss Shih Wing-ching and Andy Ho On-tat, who was information coordinator for former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

Fred Li Wah-ming, another former Democrat lawmaker, said the group had reflected the results of a poll commissioned by the group and released in June.

The survey found that 54 per cent of some 1,000 respondents still wanted "one man, one vote" even if they found the nominating process unsatisfactory.