Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang has weighed in on the universal suffrage issue, taking a conciliatory and pragmatic tone in the heated debate.
It was not unreasonable for Beijing to expect Hong Kong's chief executive not to challenge China's one-party rule, she said at a Community College of City University seminar yesterday.
She added that surely Hongkongers did not want to see the leader they elected under universal suffrage unable to co-operate with the central government.
"What [the central government] now demands is not unreasonable. It demands a chief executive to not openly call for 'down with one-party rule'," she said. "Under 'one country, two systems', there has to be mutual respect. We hope that the central government will respect the 'two systems'. Likewise, we have to respect the 'one country'."
Chan's comments follow the remarks of National People's Congress Law Committee chairman Qiao Xiaoyang last month, in which he said the city's chief executive had to love both the nation and Hong Kong and must not be confrontational towards the central government.
"I hope that the pro-Beijing camp and the central government can understand [that] a key element of [Hongkongers'] core values is the ability to accommodate different people's voices. The different voices do not necessarily mean that they are acting against you," Chan said.
"The reality is that no matter who becomes the chief executive, it would be impossible for him or her to act against the central government … Neither would Hong Kong people want the chief executive they elected not to be able to co-operate with the central government. In this respect, the central government can rest assured that Hong Kong people have a critical eye and are so pragmatic that they would cast their votes wisely."
Asked about the Occupy Central plan to demand genuine universal suffrage, Chan believed the idea - first raised by associate law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting two years ago - took root only recently likely due to people's "increasing frustration" with the government. She also rejected Basic Law Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu's earlier claim that the right to stand for election was not universal. She said Tam's remarks were not true.