A political heavyweight with close ties to Beijing has ruled herself out of spearheading a cross-party effort to bring about a breakthrough in the political deadlock over electoral reform.
Elsie Leung Oi-sie, deputy director of the Basic Law Committee that advises the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on the Basic Law's implementation, told the South China Morning Post it would not be suitable for her to take up such a role because she did not hold any portfolio on constitutional reform, official or otherwise.
"Nor have I any channel for communication with the Hong Kong government or the central government that anyone else does not already have," she said.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit suggested recently that a cross-party grouping of lawmakers, similar in format to that of the Basic Law Consultative Committee established almost 30 years ago, could help forge a consensus on the 2017 chief executive election.
Leong said it could be spearheaded by "people trusted by Beijing", such as Leung, Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing and former president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai.
Leung said she had not been approached by Leong or any other pan-democratic figure to take up such a role.
Leong's call came amid heated debate in recent months between pan-democrats and pro-Beijing lawmakers on political reform. Huge differences in their visions for the city's democratic development were laid bare in the debate, notably on implementing universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive poll.
According to the Democratic Party, Leung was authorised in 2010 by the "top central government leadership" to convey Beijing's thoughts on political reform to the party, which had sought dialogue on the arrangements for last year's elections.
Last June, Beijing endorsed the party's "one person, two votes" proposal for the 2012 Legco elections. Candidates for five new Legco seats were nominated by elected district councillors, and candidates were returned by 3.2 million people's votes.
Leung said she merely conveyed the party's desires to the central government and then relayed back Beijing's reply.
Tsang, when asked in a recent Post interview whether he would consider convening meetings among groups from across the political spectrum to discuss electoral reform, said: "Yes, but ... how could I have the ability to spearhead [such meetings]?"
Referring to a similar meeting in the 1980s to discuss the handover, Tsang said: "[The meeting] was not [spearheaded] by one person, and the situation was different then - Beijing officials really came and listened to ideas … [But] this mutual trust was gone after the June 4 incident [in 1989]."