Christian council to take aim at electoral shift

Hong Kong's largest Christian group is to speak out against the government's proposed electoral changes.

In a statement to be published as early as today, the Hong Kong Christian Council - which represents leading Christian denominations - will also demand the administration give a clear road map to universal suffrage.

'The government lacks vision on democratisation, and the public does not know what will happen after 2012,' council secretary general the Reverend Po Kam-cheong said. 'That is why we oppose any increase in functional constituency seats.'

The government is proposing to create five directly elected seats and five extra functional constituency seats in the Legislative Council in 2012.

The Christian Council also says functional constituency seats should be scrapped when Legco is elected by universal suffrage.

Pan-democrats have called for an end to the trade-based Legco seats but the government says it is too soon to consider their future.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop emeritus of the Catholic diocese, has called on Catholics to voice their democratic aspirations by supporting what some pan-democrats are terming a de facto referendum on electoral reforms - under which five lawmakers will resign, triggering by-elections.

Po said the council had not discussed the resignations plan.

Meanwhile, more than 150 professionals and academics issued a petition calling for the abolition of functional constituencies and the introduction of genuine democracy. The group urged the government to withdraw its proposals, for revision, but said that if they could not be improved, pan-democrats should veto them.

'This is a time of crisis,' barrister Gladys Li, one of the signatories, said. 'People are realising the vested interests in this very unfair political system can decide the government's direction, pushing the general public to the wayside.'