Moderate Hong Kong pan-democrats say no to Beijing's political reform draft

Four moderates, seen as targets of government lobbying, vow to vote against 2017 plan in Legco

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 August, 2014, 11:46pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 10:10am

The political reform proposal hammered out in Beijing looks all but certain to be vetoed as four key pan-democrats promised to vote "No" if it is put to the Legislative Council in its current form.

The four moderate lawmakers were seen as the government's main lobbying target as it would need their support to secure the two-thirds majority required in Legco for the reform to pass.

They are Charles Mok, who represents the information technology sector, Kenneth Leung from accountancy, education's Ip Kin-yuen and Joseph Lee Kok-long from the health services sector.

Under an initial decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Wednesday, only two or three candidates would be able to run in the 2017 chief executive election, and they would need the support of half of a 1,200-strong nominating committee to get on the ballot.

Although the details have not been confirmed officially, Beijing has apparently ruled out any last-minute changes to the draft framework. A CCTV report last night said the members of the nation's top legislative body had made a "unanimous" call for the endorsement of the draft.

The Standing Committee will vote on the framework on Sunday. The Hong Kong government's proposed second round of public consultation later this year must conform to Beijing's framework.

The four pan-democrats all said the decision by the Standing Committee had essentially shut the door to further discussion.

"It is the worst scenario I can imagine," said Ip. "Certainly I will wait and see what the final wording looks like, but it looks all but certain that pan-democrats will be left with no choice but to veto the proposal."

The other three also said they would reject the proposal if Sunday's decision follows the draft, as it fails to give Hongkongers a genuine choice of candidates.

Executive councillor Cheng Yiu-tong, a local NPC deputy attending the meeting in Beijing, said the chances of the Standing Committee making last-minute changes to the draft document would be "almost zero".

Other moderates from both sides of the political spectrum also expressed disappointment at the draft document, saying they feared that Beijing's uncompromising stance would radicalise pan-democrats and make the city ungovernable.

A law lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, Eric Cheung Tat-ming - one of 18 academics who called for public recommendation of chief executive candidates in the nomination process - said Beijing had rejected all proposals suggested by moderates.

The chief executive of the Policy Research Institute, Andrew Fung Ho-keung, said he was disappointed with the framework and feared a backlash from pan-democrats.

And Dr Sung Yun-wing, a professor of economics at Chinese University, said: "What concerns me the most is a possible noncooperation campaign against the government. It would make governance more difficult in Hong Kong."

Organisers of Occupy Central vowed to begin a "continuous and long-term" civil disobedience campaign after the central government makes its ruling on Sunday.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting, co-founder of the Occupy movement, said yesterday he might announce details of the movement's "final resort" - a mass sit-in on the streets of Central - if the government fails to deliver a reform model that offers a genuine choice to voters.

Weekly protests would be held as part of the civil disobedience campaign.

But Tai promised the campaign would be peaceful and rational. "If the campaign begins to lose control or violent acts occur, I will stand at the front of the crowd to stop them," he said.