Beijing has not authorised Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to handle constitutional reform after 2008 and a timetable for introducing universal suffrage cannot be decided by Hong Kong, according to the government. Officials also evaded the question of what sort of public pressure would prompt concessions in the reform plan when challenged by democrat legislators who are organising a demonstration for democracy on December 4. In a meeting of the Legislative Council's constitutional affairs panel, lawmakers blasted the government for coming up with a reform plan that lacked a timetable and allowed government-appointed figures to help select the chief executive. Democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming questioned why the government repeatedly refused to come up with a timetable for universal suffrage, when such a road map did not contravene the National People's Congress's decision on constitutional reform in April last year. But Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung said it would be beyond the chief executive's power to do so, because the NPC decision only allowed for changes to the chief executive election in 2007 and Legco election in 2008. 'The NPC did not authorise the chief executive to handle constitutional development after 2008,' he said. A new request had to be submitted to Beijing by the chief executive to start future stages of the reform. 'I think if we want to come up with a timetable for introducing universal suffrage, we have to understand it is not something Hong Kong's society can decide unilaterally,' Mr Lam said. 'The Hong Kong legislature can of course discuss a timetable or road map. But if you want it to have legislative effect, then we have to do things according to the Basic Law,' he said. The government is expected to face strong public opposition in the coming weeks, which will reach a climax in a mass demonstration organised by the democrats for December 4. Democrat Cheung Man-kwong said Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan had to pay for his earlier remarks that he had to 'beg' support from the democrats, because the people had no say all along in choosing the chief executive. 'You will not budge no matter how strong the public opposition? Are you going to feel nothing?' Mr Cheung asked. Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, of the Article 45 Concern Group, criticised the government for not intending to consult the public over the package. Mr Hui claimed it was supported by the public. Also at the meeting was Elsie Leung Oi-sie, who has started her work in the government constitutional affairs taskforce as an ordinary member after stepping down as secretary for justice on Thursday. Miss Leung will receive $1 as a token for her contribution.