Lam pledges to convey Hong Kong pan-democrat call for restart of political reform during talks in Beijing

But chief executive-elect insists move towards universal suffrage for chief executive must be based on 2014 Beijing ruling, which is opposed by opposition forces

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2017, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2017, 11:29pm

Chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yeut-ngor has promised to convey to state leaders growing demands by opposition politicians for the revival of Hong Kong’s stalled electoral reform process when she visits Beijing later this month.

However, Lam cautioned that the city would still have to heed Beijing’s ruling in August 2014, effectively rejecting the pan-democratic camp’s call for scrapping the restrictive framework for achieving universal suffrage laid down by the central government.

Under the ruling by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, a nomination committee would put forward two or three chief executive candidates backed by a majority of members for subsequent popular election.

Lam, who will become Hong Kong’s next leader in July, after collecting 777 votes to win the March 26 election, is expected to fly to Beijing this month to receive her official letter of appointment. Formal arrangements have yet to be announced.

Incumbent chief executive Leung Chun-ying received his appointment certificate from then premier Wen Jiabao on April 10, 2012. He met with then president Hu Jintao the following day.

In a joint petition last week, 22 pan-democrat lawmakers urged Lam to discuss with state leaders in Beijing the relaunch of political reform without following the 2014 framework, which they said would not bring about genuine universal suffrage.

In a TVB interview on Tuesday, Lam was asked if she would convey the pan-democrats’ views on restarting political reform.

“I will express the view that we do have that sort of feeling and sentiment in society,” Lam replied. “But that doesn’t mean that I would say that is something we must do because we have to look at the circumstances.

We have to use the [NPC] resolution as the basis if we are to restart political reform in Hong Kong
Carrie Lam, chief executive-elect

“My manifesto has made it very clear, as far as this topic is concerned, we have to use the [NPC] resolution as the basis if we are to restart political reform in Hong Kong.”

The government’s package of reform proposals, based on the controversial ruling, was eventually voted down by the legislature in 2015. Beijing has said the decision will remain effective beyond 2017.

During her election campaign, Lam indicated that restarting political reform would not be a priority for her administration.

She said she would “do my best to work towards creating a favourable atmosphere to take forward political reform” and this would be done “within the framework of the [NPC] decision”.

In her manifesto, she said, “I am also mindful of the controversial nature of these issues. The government must not act rashly and must prudently consider all related factors in this regard. We must seek consensus at a suitable time and in appropriate circumstances.”

Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai expressed disappointment over Lam’s stance.

“She should know well the [NPC] ruling was the biggest obstacle and public views were very loud and clear that it was not acceptable,” Wu said.

“If she still sticks to that basis, I don’t see any chance that the next political reform will be a success even if Beijing allows it to be restarted.”

Lam also told TVB she had set a target for her first 100 days in office to make Hong Kong people “feel hope and happier”.

She also hoped she could get people of different political persuasions to sit together to talk about ways to fix Hong Kong’s education system.