Public registers of Hong Kong voters are hardly mines of information. But patient inspection unearths ammunition for critics of the snail's pace of reform of the city's electoral system. It reveals the full extent to which the present arrangements deliver disproportionate representation in the legislature to a fraction of the community. As we report today, voting by corporates and other bodies enabled less than 1 per cent of voters to elect a fifth of lawmakers in the Legislative Council at the 2008 election, including nearly half the trade-based seats. And that figure assumes all voters are independent entities. But some large companies have multiple votes in trade-based voting sectors through subsidiaries. As a result, Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong group and Hutchison Whampoa have at least 20 votes across eight sectors; the Kwok family's Sun Hung Kai Properties at least 10 votes, including a number in the tourism sector; and property tycoon Cheng Yu-tung's New World Development five votes in the transport sector. The 12 lawmakers solely chosen through voting by corporates or other bodies represent the insurance, labour, financial, tourism, industrial, commercial, transport and financial services sectors. There is nothing improper about this, however concentrated the voting power in Legco it gives to those in control of companies and other bodies. Upholding the legality of it last month, Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung said corporate voting in functional constituencies had long been part of Hong Kong's system and the drafters of the Basic Law probably intended it to remain after the handover - at least until constitutional reforms were introduced. The government has now launched a consultation on proposals for limited reforms for the 2012 elections to pave the way for universal suffrage at the 2017 chief executive election and the 2020 Legco election. Its consultation paper acknowledges public opinion that functional constituency electorates should at least be broadened for 2012. Sadly, it proposes no alternative, saying the process would be too complicated because it involves the interests of many different sectors and individuals and consensus would not be easily reached. That is simply evading the issue. Corporate voting is the most egregious example of the incompatibility of functional constituencies with the goal the government says it wants to move closer to - universal and equal suffrage. In opposing a court challenge to corporate voting, the government rightly said functional constituencies were designed to return legislators 'through voting by key players and stakeholders' in various sectors of society. But that is why they cannot comply with universal and equal suffrage as currently formed. They are, in fact, a remnant of limited autonomy allowed by a former colonial power. Both the chief executive and the chief secretary say that functional constituencies are incompatible with free and equal universal suffrage. So this means that if they are to be retained in some form after 2020 they must be made to comply with the principle of equality by broadening and democratising voter participation. To achieve this, people who currently wield disproportionate voting power will have to give up that unfair privilege. If the limited reforms proposed for 2012 are to achieve meaningful progress towards universal and equal suffrage, they should at least put an end to corporate voting.