Blueprint for 2017 chief executive election to be published in October

Opponents of Occupy Central reveal timetable for next stage of government's electoral reform push after meeting Chief Secretary Carrie Lam

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 July, 2014, 3:38am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 July, 2014, 11:01am

The government will roll out its blueprint for the 2017 chief executive election in October, kicking off a second round of public consultation, with a final proposal to go before lawmakers in the first quarter of next year.

The timetable was revealed by campaigners against the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement after they met Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor yesterday. Members of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy urged Lam to arrange talks between pan-democrats and Beijing officials - but said Occupy leaders should not be involved.

"The Occupy organisers have [won] no votes," said Robert Chow Yung, spokesman for the alliance, which is collecting signatures against Occupy's plans to block streets if the government fails to come up with acceptable reforms. "They should not be the group that manipulates and binds the pan-democrats."

Meetings between officials and pan-democrats should take place "batch by batch" rather than as a group, and should not take place until after the National People's Congress' Standing Committee sets out a framework for electoral reform, Chow said. The committee is expected to make its decision next month.

A government source yesterday confirmed that a consultation would start in the final quarter of this year and last less than three months. The first round of consultation, lasting five months, ended in May.

Occupy co-organiser Dr Chan Kin-man hit back, saying the movement had "acted as a platform to reflect public opinion", cooperating with the public and political parties to debate reform.

Debate over the model for 2017 is centred on how candidates will be nominated. Pan-democrats want the public to nominate, while Beijing insists only a nominating committee can have that power, prompting concern that the committee will be used to screen out candidates critical of Beijing.

Also meeting Lam yesterday was a group of 18 scholars who put forward a model under which the public could recommend candidates to the nominating committee. Group member Eric Cheung Tat-ming said the group had stressed the importance of setting a low threshold for nominations, with one-eighth of committee members enough to run for election.

"This has been the threshold for previous chief executive elections. A higher threshold will constitute an unreasonable restriction on the right to take part in elections," said Cheung, a University of Hong Kong law scholar.

Fellow group member Dr Brian Fong Chi-hang said the group would consider varying the requirement that candidates first gain support from 2 per cent of voters before seeking support from committee members, instead having the two processes run side by side.

Lam was understood to be open to the group's proposal and did not rule out any element of it.

Lam also defended the government's stance in an article for The Wall Street Journal.

"Many sceptics say or believe that the 2017 electoral arrangements are final. They have therefore adopted a 'now or never' or 'all or nothing' approach," she wrote. "It should be possible to further amend electoral arrangements." She called on lawmakers, who must approve any reform plan with a two-thirds majority, to be pragmatic.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit was disappointed, saying: "If you just [have] the right to vote, but the names on the ballot are not for us to decide, it will not help solve the governance problem that's haunting us."