Universal suffrage

Little sign of consensus on 2017 election: SCMP Debate

Politicians and academics are split over how to nominate the chief executive, even when the divisive issue of public nomination is ignored

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 5:57am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 6:03pm

Reaching consensus on how to nominate candidates for the chief executive election in 2017 looks difficult even if public nomination is set aside. That's the picture that has emerged from the latest SCMP debate.

The politicians and academics invited to express their views were split on key matters related to the nominating committee that will be formed to name candidates to run in 2017.

Divisions included how to reform the election committee that selected the current chief executive, whether members should be popularly elected, and the threshold for candidature.

Academic Brian Fong Chi-hang said corporate votes on the election committee should be replaced by individual votes. Ray Yep Kin-man, a professor of political science at City University, agreed. While neither advocated giving the public a right to nominate directly - an idea rejected by Beijing - both proposed public recommendation.

Yep said: "The inclusion of the element of civic nomination is ... a gesture of respect for the citizen's right in the process, but the number of voters required is open for discussion."

READ: SCMP Debate - How could the chief executive nominating committee be more representative?

Fong wanted would-be candidates to first gain support from 2 per cent of the registered voting population of Legco direct elections, before seeking support in the committee.

Lawmakers Alice Mak Mei-kuen and Ronny Tong Ka-wah suggested adding more district councillors to the committee to give voters a voice indirectly. Both thought the committee, modelled after the 1,200-strong election committee, could be expanded by a few hundred. Tong wanted the committee to include district councillors, business groups and professionals in equal numbers to choose "a most acceptable candidate to all".

But Richard Wong Yue-chim, a professor of political economy at the University of Hong Kong, said this would further fragment a political system that had been hijacked by minority interests.

"A minority-dominated system is the root of all tyrannies," Wong said. He suggested half the committee members be chosen by city-wide elections.

Mak said a person who wanted to run for chief executive should go through two stages, eventually securing support from more than half of committee members. But this threshold was deemed too high by Fong and Yep, who said gaining the support of one-eighth of committee members was more reasonable and had been the minimum requirement in previous elections.

Scholar Joseph Cheng Yu-shek did not address these issues. He dismissed minor revisions as meaningless and advocated nomination by the public and political parties to guard against political screening.