Put it to the vote

TSE YING's article (Sunday Morning Post, February 14) accuses the United Democrats of Hongkong of campaigning for an independent Hongkong through the promotion of a referendum on democratic political reforms.

He might have been better to leave the commentary at that, since the justification for the accusation is riddled with contradictions.

The principal flaw in his argument is the inference that a policy can only be legal if it is specially set out in law, and that conversely if it is not specifically written in law, it must be illegal. Taken to the extreme, this can mean that eating fish in Hongkong is illegal because it is not specifically permitted by law.

Tse awkwardly contends a referendum is against British constitutional law because there is no rule that permits it. Then, he states a referendum is against the Basic Law because the Basic Law specifies gradual democratic development. In fact, Article 68 of the Basic Law specifies only the method for forming the Legislative Council shall be ''in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress''.

The Basic Law says nothing about prohibiting the use of a referendum to provide the Governor and legislators with a precise gauge of public feeling before embarking on highly controversial legislation that will have enormous consequences for Hongkong.

Shouldn't Legislative Councillors be allowed to know what the citizens of Hongkong think? This is why I will raise the issue in a referendum motion on April 21. A referendum would allow citizens to have a voice in the decision-making process on democratic reform, an issue which will integrally affect them not only in the 1994-95 elections, but also over the next 50 years. SZETO WAH Central Executive Committee member United Democrats of Hongkong