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  • Nov 1, 2014
  • Updated: 7:40am
Universal Suffrage
NewsHong Kong
ELECTION 2017

Former Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa says 2017 vote will be ‘real’ democracy

Beijing's framework for first one man, one vote election offers 'real and substantial' reform, says former chief executive in call for political unity

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 September, 2014, 5:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 September, 2014, 7:20am
  • Tung says Hong Kong will usher in a new chapter in history in 2017 written by the people of Hong Kong.
  • Welcomes NPC framework, says election method for chief executive could change after 2017
  • “I appeal to people of all political stripes to come together and turn negative sentiments into positive energy”

Hong Kong's first chief executive Tung Chee-hwa has called on Hongkongers of "all political stripes" to cast aside their differences and work together to achieve universal suffrage.

The former shipping magnate said it would be democracy "real and substantial" for five million voters in the city to pick their leader in 2017, a claim disputed by critics who say the tougher-than-expected framework set by Beijing will deprive voters of a genuine choice of candidates.

In his first press conference since stepping down as chief executive in March 2005, Tung said it would be a "glittering achievement" for the chief executive to be elected by "one man, one vote" in 2017, 20 years after he was chosen as the city's first leader by a 400-strong selection committee.

"Between 1997 and 2017 - a short span of just 20 years - Hong Kong would have moved from having Britain parachute a governor into Hong Kong to having five million voters choosing their own leader," he said. "We will be ushering Hong Kong into a new chapter in history.

If we come to a standstill this time, I don’t know when we can move forward again
TUNG CHEE-HWA

"If we come to a standstill [on constitutional development] this time, I don't know when we can move forward again. That's why I came out today to make the appeal."

His rare comments on Hong Kong's affairs were widely seen as part of Beijing's publicity campaign to defend the decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on political reform.

Tung's remarks came a day after the last governor, Chris Patten, wrote in the Financial Times that Britain had a "moral and political obligation" to the city because it co-signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984. "We have a huge stake in the well-being of Hong Kong, with a political system in balance with its economic freedom," Patten wrote.

The framework endorsed by the committee on Sunday allows only two or three candidates to run. They will need approval from the majority of a 1,200-strong nominating committee. Methods for electing the committee, its composition and size will be "in accordance with" those of the election committee that decided the 2012 poll.

All 27 pan-democratic lawmakers vowed on Sunday to veto any government proposal to implement a "one man, one vote" election based on such a model.

During the press conference at the Office of Former Chief Executives, Tung said he noted many pan-democrats reacted with anger and disappointment to the NPC's decision.

"I understand how deeply and strongly felt those emotions are," he said.

But Tung, a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said: "Today, on the eve of Hong Kong's crucial development in our long history, on the verge of our going for the biggest political leap, how can we possibly choose to stand still? How can we let our march towards democracy stop and stall?"

Tung, 77, said the framework set down by the Standing Committee was "comparatively conservative" but also comparatively the best, citing the possible constitutional crisis that would be triggered if someone Beijing deemed unacceptable was elected. "If, after 2017, we desire to further improve our democratic system, there is a clear mechanism in the Basic Law for us to do so.

"I appeal to people of all political stripes to come together and turn negative sentiments into positive energy. Hand in hand, we will build a sound electoral arrangement on the basis of the foundation laid down by NPC."

Although he "resolutely opposed" Occupy Central, Tung said he had no doubt that many of those sympathetic towards the civil disobedience movement were patriots and "true-blue Hongkongers at heart".

He did not approve of calls for students to boycott classes. But he believed some were motivated to do so by a love for Hong Kong.

Tung's comments drew criticism, with Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, convenor of the Alliance for True Democracy, saying: "Hong Kong people can't accept a reform model without a democratic element."

Anson Chan Fang On-sang, who served as chief secretary under Tung, said under Beijing's model "it would be impossible for five million voters to have genuine choice", adding: "It would be 100 per cent fake democracy."

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This article is now closed to comments

5407f7b9-a12c-4c2d-b343-4c4a0a320968
Mr. Tung is full of ****. He urges democratic reform in his rhetoric. Last time I checked, he was leading a group of billionaires up to meet the central government. When was it that billionaire-influenced policy making is representative of the voice of the people? If anything, the closely linked interrelationship of governance and commerce, I'm tempted to say corrupt practices, is at the focal point of what occupy central might truly be about here. And the chance to vote helps the people to eliminate that possibility. You are full of **** Tung.
sterobertshk
I don't understand what all the fuss is about. How can there be any form of democracy real or fake in one party system?
akwils
The Joint Declaration under which the territory passed from British to Chinese rule specifies:
****www.cmab.gov.hk/en/issues/jd3.htm#con
Point 2. The HKSAR will be directly under the authority of the Central People’s Government of the PRC and will enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defense affairs.
Point 4. The Government of the HKSAR will be composed of local inhabitants but the chief executive will be appointed by the Central People’s Government and he will nominate the principal officials. Furthermore the legislature of the HKSAR shall be constituted by elections.
Beside, Hong Kong chief executive was certainly not democratically nominated when Hong Kong was a British colony.
Criticising the PRC is doing a disservice to the people of Hong Kong as this will harden the position in Beijing where western intervention is met with fury which is not surprising considering the past.
The judiciary has never been questioned by Beijing only the way the chief executive will be nominated before the election. Who in his right state of mind can imagine that the PRC, of which Hong Kong is a SAR would not vet such a candidate?
Actually most Hong Konger remember that they are a SAR as 150,000 motivated "pro occupy" demonstrators were a small minority in a population of about 5 million adults.
53b67fe6-fef8-46a4-9a6d-74350a320969
Tung was useless back then, as he is useless now.
alyosha
Only the one without conscience and shameless or someone who is dementia will say the proposal 'REAL' democracy!!!!
jayb
Tung is incompetent. he can't even read the script written for him.
Sifu_628
"What we see here is a failure to communicate!"
China and its cronies see the 7 millions+ residents of Hong Kong as colonial rejects of a now defunct British empire and do not deserve political rights of any kind. Its overlords in Beijings seek to further their own ambitions and control on the mainland, fearful of democracy taking roots in Hong Kong and spreading to the Mainland. Our residents see themselves as free men and women living in lawful society with alienable rights granted by God and protected under the Basic Laws. Given the enormous divergence in perspectives and goals, it will be exceedingly difficult to negotiate an acceptable solution to serve both interests. More likely than ever, brute force executed through guiling manipulation of the media, finance and business through its political appointees and colluding supporters will ensure Beijing's will be continually enforced. That is, until the people rise up to fight for "true democracy". Tyrants will no be accepted.
Dai Muff
The closer you get to Communists the more words take on meaning entirely devoid of sense to the rest of the world. They have had to wheel him out because he is the one CE most of us disrespect the least.
commdent_lady
I agree his sentences because we are not at the time of revolution. Our country is not bad as at ?Ching Dynastry? and we no need to do as our National Father did before. If we choose to do like that, we need to pay more as before.
chuchu59
Some may not like TUNG but though not competent as CE he shows passion towards HK and does not display hostility towards the pan-democrats. He was entrusted to be the first CE by virtue of his business connections but China trusted him and on this score I do agree that he is a trustworthy person.
TUNG is not one to define what is true democracy though as his arguments are weak and dont really hold water. Its pitiful that Beijing cannot place enough faith in CY being able to dissuade the pan-democrats not to veto the reform plan and asks dethroned TUNG to give him a hand.
The chances of a pan-democrat making it through the nominating committee is a fat 0 so how on earth is it possible they wont be using their final chip and veto the proposal?

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