Veteran Democrat Martin Lee sets next Hong Kong leader two conditions to get party on board

Party founder says chief executive-elect must restart electoral reform process and pick cabinet without Beijing’s interference

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 April, 2017, 9:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 April, 2017, 11:24pm

Hong Kong’s next leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor must restart the stalled electoral reform process and form her cabinet without Beijing’s interference if she wants to get a Democrat on board, the party’s founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming said on Friday.

Lee laid down the two conditions after veteran Democrat Dr Law Chi-kwong, a University of Hong Kong social policy academic, was believed to have been approached by the chief executive-elect to serve as a minister.

Law declined to comment to the Post.

Hong Kong pan-democrats remain wary over Carrie Lam’s olive branch

The Democratic Party, the Civic Party, and the Professionals Guild, formed by seven pan-democratic lawmakers, said they had received an invitation from Lam to meet as her first step in forging social unity.

The Democratic Party’s central standing committee decided on Thursday night to uphold its policy of barring members from serving as ministers or executive councillors until the city’s leader was elected by universal suffrage.

“Mrs Lam needs to show she’s genuine in bringing democracy to Hong Kong,” Lee, who was not on the party committee but agreed with its decision, said on Friday. “She must restart the process for reform of universal suffrage, which Beijing has promised Hongkongers but denied them for 20 years. Nothing else can help her win pan-democrats over to her side.”

Lam also needed to fill her cabinet with talent of her own choosing, Lee said, “because the Communist Party may want to fill certain key posts with its trusted party members, like the education chief as the post deals with ideology indoctrination”.

Lam has said that when she visits Beijing next week she would convey to state leaders Hongkongers’ sentiments against the framework for electoral reform handed down by Beijing in 2014, but she remained non-committal about restarting the exercise or altering the scheme.

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.

Democrat looking out from the inside: Law Chi-kwong

Lam, who won the leadership election on March 26 with the backing of Beijing loyalists, has urged pan-democratic parties not to shut the door on her.

Law is considered a moderate in his party and has functioned as an election strategist. He is an ally of Lam, having served on several government advisory bodies, including the Commission on Poverty, when Lam was chief secretary.

While declining to comment on his future, Law told the Post he had obtained a 10-year home return permit recently to travel to mainland China and he went there twice last week.

Beijing decided last year that the travel documents would be reissued to some pan-democrats who had had them revoked since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown for their pro-democracy stance.

Without them they cannot visit the mainland unless they have one-off permission.