POLITICAL REFORM
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Occupy Central

Occupy leaders predict fresh protests over new government political reform consultation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 January, 2015, 11:08am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 January, 2015, 8:26pm

Occupy Central leaders anticipate another round of mass pro-democracy protests to be triggered when Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor launches the latest consultation on political reform today, saying they expected it to produce a conservative final proposal.

Occupy co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting said that based on the government report released yesterday about the 79-day protests which ended on December 15, he expected officials would not go beyond the framework set by Beijing for the city’s universal suffrage in 2017.

“Probably the report reflects the way the government is going to handle the consultation on political reform,” Tai told an RTHK radio programme this morning.

“The government cannot take a bigger role in the question of political reform … In the end the power to make decisions is given to the central government.”

Student leader Lester Shum, speaking on the same show, said he expected protests when a final proposal on political reform was tabled to the Legislative Council.

READ MORE: Pan-democrats hoist umbrellas as Carrie Lam announces new political reform consultation

Shum said the consultation would have little meaning if it followed the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s framework. “No matter if it is two rounds or 200 rounds of consultation, there is little meaning because that would not reflect Hongkongers’ wish for democracy,” he said.

Shum added however, that he and other student activists did not have any plan to block the consultation. Tai and Shum said the government’s public sentiment report failed to address key issues, saying it offered no analysis of Hongkongers’ views on democracy, or the Occupy protests.

Shum likened the report to a “newspaper cutting homework” by a primary school pupil while Tai said printing it was a waste of paper.

Shum said the report’s conclusion – that it is the “common aspiration” of Hongkongers to have universal suffrage in 2017 “as scheduled and strictly in accordance with the Basic Law and the NPCSC’s decisions” – was wrong.

“If it was really Hong Kong people’s common aspiration to implement universal suffrage within the framework laid down by the NPCSC, then the Occupy Central protests chronicled in the report would not have happened,” he said.

Tai said the report was not really intended to investigate what Hongkongers think about political reform, but was merely an expedient move by the government to buy time at the height of the Occupy protests.

Tai said he expected the final proposal on political reform to be rejected by pan-democrat lawmakers and fail to pass Legco.

Meanwhile, a Hong Kong delegate to the National People’s Congress, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, praised the public sentiment report as "balanced" and "encompassing all events big and small".

She said the community should now discuss constitutional reform in a "pragmatic" manner.

"We need to think about whether we will be better off having universal suffrage and moving one step forward, or not having it," she said. "We should stop only looking at what is the most ideal."

She said the city would face a gloomy future and be left behind by neighbouring competing economies if it continues to be dragged down by arguments and civil disobedience.

The South China Morning Post has learned that the proposal to be unveiled today would impose a cap on the number of recommendations the 2017 chief executive election hopefuls can get to prevent the scenario of an aspirant getting support from an absolute majority of committee members, which would make it impossible for any other challenger to become a candidate.

Hopefuls who obtain enough nominations move on to the committee’s internal vote that decides the final slate of two or three hopefuls the public can choose from. In February 2002, then chief executive Tung Chee-hwa was returned unopposed for a second term after securing nominations from 714 members of a 796-strong Election Committee.

The minimum number of nominations was set at 100, so no one else was able to vie for the post. The same proportion – 12.5 per cent – was applied to the 1,193-strong committee for the 2012 chief executive ballot.

It is understood that Hongkongers will be asked in the latest consultation on whether to retain that entry threshold or to lower it. Beijing has said that only two or three people who secure support from at least half of the committee can go forward to the popular vote in 2017.

Pan-democrats say this would screen out their candidate and they have vowed to veto any government proposal based on that framework.

The consultation document is not expected to put forward proposals on the composition of the committee or on taking into account blank ballot papers.