Party unveils ideas for electing chief A proposal put forward by the leading Beijing-friendly party, which would effectively bring in a preliminary election to select chief executive candidates ahead of a popular vote, would be acceptable to the central government, a source close to Beijing said yesterday. The long-awaited proposal, released yesterday by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, calls for voters to choose the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017 from at least two candidates who would be endorsed by the nominating committee. Battle lines were immediately drawn over the proposal, with the DAB calling its plan viable and the pan-democrats accusing the party of proposing a 'fake universal suffrage' by putting in place a screening mechanism intended to bar them from the race. Unveiling the party's proposal, just days before the expected release of the government's green paper on political reform on Wednesday, DAB vice-chairman Greg So Kam-leung said the introduction of universal suffrage in 2017 would be in line with the principle of 'gradual and orderly progress' as stated in the Basic Law. The DAB did not put forward any proposal for universal suffrage for the Legislative Council election. Vice-chairman Tam Yiu-chung said the party 'has not specifically communicated with the central government on the timetable for universal suffrage', but added that he believed the DAB's proposal was viable. A source close to Beijing said the DAB's proposal might not be the ultimate one that the chief executive would submit to Beijing, but it had set the framework for public discussion and was in line with state leaders' remarks in the past few weeks. 'State leaders have already set the rules for implementation of universal suffrage. The DAB's proposal would be an acceptable option to the central government,' the source said. Under the DAB plan, the chief executive would still be elected by an 800-member Election Committee in 2012, but the number of nominations a candidate needed to stand would be cut from the existing 100 to 50. The party suggests the nominating committee for the 2017 election should be modelled on the existing 800-member Election Committee, with anyone securing 50 nominations able to become a candidate. The nominating committee should endorse 'at least two candidates' through democratic procedures - as required by Article 45 of the Basic Law - before the candidates are elected by 'one man, one vote', the DAB proposes. It does not spell out how those procedures would work. Mr Tam said the party had not reached a consensus on what was meant by 'democratic procedure' and wanted to listen to the views of the public. Mainland Basic Law drafter Xu Chongde conceded that the drafters had not discussed in the 1980s the detailed procedures for nominating the candidates, such as whether there should be a preliminary voting procedure before the popular vote. Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said the proposal amounted to 'fake universal suffrage' by turning the 'democratic procedures' into a screening mechanism. Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun said he still believed electing the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2012 was possible and the party would continue fighting for it.