Pro-democracy advocates say the administration needs to discuss constitutional development with all parties The Hong Kong government should call a summit on future constitutional reform similar to those held in the 1980s to discuss the city's future after the handover, say veteran pro-democracy activists. Their call came after Tsang Yok-sing, a leading pro-government figure who has just resigned as chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong, suggested that mainland officials should be invited to take part in such meetings where a consensus acceptable to all sides could be reached. After the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984, clearing the way for the handover in 1997, leading figures from various sectors took part in drafting the Basic Law, and mainland officials were often present at the meetings. In the months preceding the crackdown on the democracy movement in 1989 in Beijing, those people with different views on democratic development in Hong Kong took part in a series of meetings with mainland officials. Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, convenor of the Democratic Development Network, who was active in the democratic movement in the 1980s, said the government should call a summit on future constitutional development that involved all parties and leading lights in society. This had to be done in light of the strong demand for the direct election of the chief executive and the entire Legislative Council in 2007 and 2008, as shown in the 500,000 turnout in the July 1 protest and the victory of pro-democracy candidates in the district council elections last week, he said. 'The discussion after 1984 was to decide how and where Hong Kong should go down the path of democracy, which was highly complicated. But now as all parties and the majority of the public want universal suffrage, as laid down in the Basic Law, we would only need to work out the details,' he said. 'The best thing for the government to do now is to call a constitutional summit right away, so everyone can air their views.' But he said there would be 'no point' in inviting mainland officials to take part because the issue concerned Hong Kong's internal affairs. Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, professor of political science at City University and a core member of the group pushing for democracy in the 1980s, said inviting mainland officials presented difficulties because Beijing was hostile towards the pro-democracy camp. 'We don't have to wait for Beijing, although we all know that the central government has the final say in the matter. But nothing should stop the Hong Kong government from holding such a summit tomorrow as public consultation is to start in a few weeks anyway,' he said. Professor Cheng said Beijing would nonetheless be able to hear Hong Kong's views through other channels without directly taking part in the negotiation process. Under the Basic Law, the present method of electing the chief executive by an 800-member Election Committee and half of the 60-seat legislature by direct elections could change after 2007. Both the Democrats and the DAB have said they support direct election.