Candidates cap must be specific, says Beijing source

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 August, 2014, 4:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 August, 2014, 4:30am

The government should consider capping the number of candidates at either two or three when it amends legislation for the chief executive poll in 2017, a source familiar with the national legislature's draft decision on reform said yesterday.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee is due to vote tomorrow on a framework for Hong Kong's electoral reform.

On Wednesday, sources revealed that under the draft framework, just two to three candidates - with the support of half of the 1,200-member nominating committee - could be put forward for the ballot when Hong Kong elects its leader by universal suffrage for the first time.

Pan-democrats criticised the document for setting "unreasonable" restrictions on the election, saying Hongkongers could be deprived of genuine choice.

But yesterday, a source suggested the Hong Kong legislation should be specific on candidates. "How can you make a law which says 'two to three' candidates? It has to be either 'two' or 'three' … otherwise it will be difficult to exercise the law," the person said, without elaborating. The source also said the government would need to consult Hongkongers about what should be done if only one candidate secured the required 50 per cent support of the nominating committee - meaning the two-candidate minimum would not be met.

As to the formation of the nominating committee, the source said this would be revealed in the wording of the Standing Committee's final decision tomorrow - whether it stipulates that the body's composition should "make reference to" the current provisions, or that it should "follow" current provisions. "If it says 'reference' it means there is still room for discussion, but if it says 'follow', it means it should copy what was written in the Basic Law's Annex I," the source said. The annex sets out details of the current Election Committee's four-sector model.

Separately, police are investigating two complaints of a leak of data submitted for Occupy Central's "referendum" on reform in June, after a list of identity card and phone numbers collected by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme appeared online. Organisers said all data was encrypted and could not have been decoded.