Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

Liaison office chief Zhang Xiaoming to discuss political reform with pan-democrats

First meeting with Democrats on Friday; NPC delegate Bernard Chan expects Beijing to set high bar for 2017 nomination

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2014, 2:13pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2014, 5:58pm

The government has confirmed that liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming will meet pan-democrat lawmakers in groups to discuss political reform.

The four meetings will be chaired by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and will begin on Friday. Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung and Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen will also attend.

The news came on Tuesday as Bernard Chan, an executive councillor and delegate to the National People’s Congress (NPC), said he expects Beijing to set down a requirement later this month that hopefuls for the chief executive election must obtain support from at least half of the nominating committee to officially become candidates.

Friday’s meeting with Democratic Party lawmakers will be followed by separate meetings with legislators from the Civic Party, Labour Party and Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, as well as other independent pan-democratic lawmakers.

The Civic Party’s Alan Leong Kah-kit said that during the meeting he would convey Hongkongers’ view that the reform proposal should not impose unreasonable limitations that screen out contenders with different political views to Beijing’s.

The meetings come weeks before the Standing Committee of the NPC is expected to give Hong Kong the green light for reform at the end of this month, while setting a framework for a second round of public consultation later this year.

Zhang said last week in a 50-minute speech that political reform has to be considered from the “perspective of national security” and Beijing must not allow Hong Kong to become a base for subversion against central authorities.

Bernard Chan told a radio show this morning that he expects any hopefuls will have to obtain support from at least half of the nominating committee to be eligible to stand in the election.

“It would be catastrophic if the NPCSC insists on writing the 50 per cent threshold into its report,” the Civic Party’s Leong said.

“Because it is a consensus among all Hong Kong people that the threshold ought not to be harsher than the previous chief executive elections, which was one-eighth of the Election Committee.”

Leong said that the imposition of a 50 per cent threshold would mean Beijing was abandoning the Basic Law’s promise of “gradual and orderly progress” towards democracy, and would instead represent a regression.

Students plan to strike if the guidelines announced later this month rule out the possibility that the public and political parties would be able to nominate candidates.