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  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 3:06am
Occupy Central
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chief executive election 2017

Hong Kong pan-dems, Occupy organisers vow 'long fight' as Beijing rules out open 2017 election

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 August, 2014, 3:52pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 August, 2014, 7:09pm

Beijing has officially adopted a tightly-controlled framework for Hong Kong’s first chief executive election by universal suffrage, which is deemed by the city's pan-democrats as closing doors to aspirants with different political views.

The decision, which was approved unanimously on Sunday afternoon by the nation’s top legislative body, the Standing Committee of National People’s Congress, allows only two to three candidates to run in the race for Hong Kong's top job. And they have to obtain the support of at least half of the nominating committee members to get on the ballot.

“The road of dialogue has come to the end,” said the Occupy co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting said as he met the press with members of other pan-democratic groups such as the Alliance for True Democracy and the Federation of Students.

Occupy Central would next mobilise a long-term campaign fighting for democracy would be mobilised together with the other groups, Tai said. 

Labour Party’s lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan added that they would launch a “full-scale fight” against Beijing’s decision.

Beijing has also decided that the formation and electoral method of the nominating committee "shall be made in accordance with” those of the existing 1,200-strong election committee – which consists of four major sectors. It was elected by around 240,000 voters in 38 sub-sectors.

This is seen as a departure from the NPC's decision in 2007 that the formation of the 2017 nominating committee “could be modelled on” that of the election committee.

It also implies that only minor changes would be possible. Maria Tam Wai-chu, a local deputy who attended the Standing Committee, said it is the Hong Kong government’s responsibility to put forward options for further discussion.

In Beijing, Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei stressed that the chief executive must be one who “loves the country and loves Hong Kong” and upholds the Basic Law, for the sake of national security and the city’s long term interest.

“If the chief executive does not love the country and confronts Beijing, ‘one country, two systems’ would fail,” Li said.

In his tough remarks after the Standing Committee delivered its decision, Li said some people in Hong Kong attempted to “confuse and mislead” the society by advocating public nomination, and sought to replace Basic Law provisions by suggesting the so-called "international standards" on universal suffrage.

“A lot of time has been wasted before in the debate of impractical suggestions such as public nomination,” Li said, insisting that the electoral method should be made in accordance with the actual situation and legal framework of each society. 

He also warned that Hong Kong could be dragged into protracted political debate if the Legco vetoes the reform proposal this time.

"It would be harmful to the business environment and the city’s development," he said. 

The Hong Kong government’s proposed second round of public consultation on how to achieve universal suffrage, slated for later this year, must conform to Beijing’s decision. Then it needs the support of at least two-thirds of the 70-seat Legislative Council to approve the reform.

The resolution stated that the electoral method would remain unchanged if the Legco failed to pass the reform package.

Hong Kong's chief executive Leung Chun-ying hailed the NPC decision as "a historic milestone for the country" and the city, and said his government would launch the second round of public consultation as soon as possible.

Official and non-official members of the Executive Council also voiced support for Beijing's decision today, Leung added.

"We can't afford a standstill in our constitutional development or else the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong will be at a stake," he said.

If the Legislative Council fail to approve the resolution next year, the city would be stuck at the status quo, with a 1,200-strong election committee picking the chief executive.

"Our five million [eligible voters] will be deprived of their voting rights that they will otherwise be entitled."

Leung said all of Hong Kong was "obliged to accomplish the task [of implementing universal suffrage] dutifully", but added the overall direction was not final.

"No one can say once we accept this direction ... That we can't make amendments further on," he said.

Pro-establishment lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-Yi said it was possible that the 1,200 member nominating committee could include other constituencies in the future.

Beijing has also decided that the electoral method for the 2016 Legco election would be unchanged. All members of the legislature could be elected by popular votes after universal suffrage has been implemented for the chief executive election.

Pro-democracy camp lawmakers have vowed to veto a proposal that fails to give voters a genuine choice on candidates, and the Occupy Central campaigners said they would start mobilising the campaign when Beijing caps the number of candidates or install a 50 per cent nomination threshold on potential candidates.

Occupy campaigners have announced they would gather supporters outside the Chief Executive’s office in Tamar between 7pm and 9pm on Sunday, when they are expected to announce the next move of the campaign.

It is not clear whether the rally could lead directly to the “last resort” of the Occupy campaign – which would call for a large-scale sit-in to block roads in the city's business hub.

More than 7,000 police officers, who have been specially trained to deal with the civil disobedience campaign, have been deployed for Sunday evening's assembly, although the organisers have stressed they would not stage the sit-in on Sunday night.

"The Occupy Central campaign has made mainland officials and Standing Committee members who are concerned about Hong Kong believe that they could not back down, because once you begin to back down, they would ask for even more later," said Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the NPC standing committee. 

"Without this decision, the argument over this would go on and on. I believe the Occupy campaign would take place, but we don’t know how many will take part in it, though I really hope they would not do it," Fan said.

Fan sought to defend Beijing's concerns that Occupy Central could harm national security.  

"The protection of national security isn’t only about defence or warfare. Disrupting China’s financial system is a threat to national security...the Occupy campaign says from the outset that it would disrupt Hong Kong’s financial hub, and since we are a renminbi clearing and trade hub, you would understand why the chief executive of the HKSAR needs to 'love the country, love Hong Kong,'" she said, adding that it was a view adopted by most Standing Committee members.


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This article is now closed to comments

Occupy Central might be naïve. Unfortunately however, due to CY Leung and Zhongnanhai sadly deciding to ignore the wishes and aspirations of Hongkongers, there appears no other method for ordinary Hongkongers to make their feelings known. Should zhongnanhai or CY Leung decide to escalate matters, then we will truly be living in "interesting times" as HK would likely become ungovernable.
No steps forward and one step back!
I would agree that the Basic Law should be upheld - especially the bit about progress towards Universal Suffrage. This decision is in direct contravention of the spirit of the Basic Law.
By "organically Chinese" do you mean only the CCP? Or do you permit other native (mainland) Chinese (Han) political parties - oh hang on, there aren't any other permitted, are there!?
Dai Muff
This decision breaks Article 26 and Article 39 of the Basic Law.
What is the difference between the Nominating Committee and the Election Committee? The NC will be a mirror image of the EC. If a candidate needs more than 50% of the NC vote this indicates each NC member must have at least 2 or even 3 votes in the selection process in order to achieve the 'two or three candidates'? Not very good at maths but my head is swimming at trying to make any sense of this - but then again it doesn't make any sense at all.
We 're going to be left with this completely dysfunctional skewered system of 'elections' to prevent democracy being implemented: list system, first past the post, disproportionate constituencies - rotten Function Constutuencies versus the super District Council seats, small circle elections for the NC and EC and the list goes on. Sadly, this decision will make HK ungovernable going forward - total gridlock as no matter what the Central Authorities want they can't suppress the votes of the voting public, a majority of whom have consistently voted for the pan-democrats - hence the 2/3rds majority required for change will never be in place. A tragic day for HK.
M Miyagi, your comment shows your complete ignorance of the US system or other more democratic systems around the world. The US does have an "election committee" instead of universal suffrage, that being the Electoral College. However, the important point is that the Electoral College is elected via universal suffrage, and there is no limit to the number of candidates nominated. Write-in votes are also welcome.
That compares to the 50% threshold farce allowed by the CCP, under a non-democratic election committee appointment process, which means in practical terms that the freedom of our universal vote is to vote for pro-Beijing pro-business candidate A, pro-Beijing pro-business candidate B, and possibly pro-Beijing pro-business candidate C.
When choosing between David Koch, Charles Koch or Sheldon Adelson, is there actually a winner? All of Hong Kong loses if we cannot elect our candidates, *and* our CE from among those candidates.
"More than 7,000 police officers" on stand by, this tells more about the government than the planned meeting.
Hong Kong is the CCP's little playground and they intend to make it even more Party-friendly.
Well, not a major surprise. Now we await the next step. Of course the decision is wrong but I can't help feeling that Occupy Hong Kong is not right.
No surprises and probably the best HK could expect.
And also clever. When (if) the reforms are blocked in Legco Beijing can legitimately say electoral reforms were blocked by HK’s democrats and not Beijing.
The pan-democrats have always been fighting the wrong battle. They should have got rid of the functional constituencies first and then worried about the CE election. Now they have achieved essentially nothing.
Consider this: if the same proposals were applied to the rest of China there would probably be celebrations. Is this a blueprint for China’s future?



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