Hongkongers should cast a vote in Occupy Central's "referendum" next month even if they don't agree with any of the proposals on the shortlist, according to a group of pan-democratic lawmakers.
Doing so would send a message to Beijing that Hongkongers want the 2017 chief executive election to be "truly democratic" by opening the door even to candidates critical of the central government, said Labour Party Chairman Lee Cheuk-yan.
The call came as 13 pan-democratic lawmakers, including those from the Civic Party and the Democratic Party, gathered in Causeway Bay yesterday to distribute leaflets to promote Occupy's citywide referendum, which is to take place from June 20-22. It was one of the first signs of unity after the pan-democratic camp was divided by Occupy Central's "deliberation day" on May 6.
On that day, about 2,500 of the movement's supporters shortlisted three reform plans for the unofficial referendum.
Each of the shortlisted proposals - by the Alliance for True Democracy, People Power and Scholarism - called for the public to be able to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive election - a demand Beijing has consistently rejected.
The exercise split pan-democrats, with the Democratic Party condemning People Power and the League of Social Democrats for reneging on promises to support the alliance's proposal, while some pan-democrats questioned whether the shortlist risked "disenfranchising" residents who didn't want "confrontation" with Beijing.
Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan said yesterday that the camp and its supporters should focus on the bigger picture of the referendum.
"No matter which proposal you vote for, the spirit of it would be saying that there shouldn't be any 'screening' in the nomination process for the 2017 poll," Wong said.
"And that the election must meet the international standard of allowing voters to have a real choice among candidates."
In a joint statement, 23 pan-democratic lawmakers - all except those from People Power, the league and independent Wong Yuk-man - called on Hongkongers to support the alliance's proposal in the referendum.
The alliance's convenor Professor Cheng Yu-shek said he was confident that at least 100,000 people would take part in the vote, which will involve 15 polling stations around the city and an internet voting platform.
Meanwhile, Occupy Central organisers are to decide this week whether to use the referendum to ask voters additional questions about their views on electoral reform.
The alliance is to conduct an opinion poll on the various reform plans on June 15-19.