The Bar has accused the government of steering the public towards its favoured means of avoiding what it sees as abuse of Legislative Council by-elections: scrapping them. By describing the option that gives the seat of a lawmaker who resigns to one of his or her running mates in the previous election as 'fair and workable', the government is guilty of cherry-picking, the Hong Kong Bar Association says. 'The HKBA is not convinced that a consultation conducted in this skewed manner is a genuine, proper or an adequate consultation of the views of the people of Hong Kong,' the association said in a statement. 'The public are being steered towards a particular preconceived and predetermined conclusion that the government desires and seeks.' It said the administration's preferred option was flawed because it still denies voters the right to choose the candidates to fill the vacated seats. Responding to a consultation paper released in July, the association also expressed regret that the government had put forward options for consultation when it had not fully considered their compatibility with the Basic Law. It urged the government to consider maintaining the status quo of holding by-elections to fill Legco vacancies. The government is seeking the public's views on whether what it says is a loophole that enables abuse of by-elections needs to be closed, or if the status quo of holding by-elections to fill Legco vacancies arising from resignations should stand. The move follows the resignations last year of five lawmakers to trigger by-elections they hoped - in vain, as it turned out - would be a de facto referendum on democracy. Besides the option of handing the seat to a running mate, the government is inviting comment on three other solutions: preventing a lawmaker who resigns from standing in any by-election in the same Legco term; holding a by-election only in the event of a seat becoming vacant through death or serious illness; or leaving the seat vacant if none of the candidates' running mates will serve. The government first tried to ram through a law changed without consultation. In June, the association issued three statements questioning the constitutionality of the original proposal, under which midterm Legco vacancies would have been filled by the next best-placed candidate from any slate at the previous election. Ahead of the annual July 1 protest march, the government changed its mind and said the next-best-placed candidate form the resigning lawmaker's slate should get the seat. The turnout for the march was the biggest since 2004, with opposition to the by-election amendment one of the rallying cries. Three days later the government decided to hold the public consultation. It will end on September 24. The association said it remained unconvinced that a sufficient case had been presented to justify depriving Hongkongers of their rights to vote and stand in by-elections. 'If the government does not see any better solution than its present preferred proposal, the HKBA urges the government simply to consider maintaining the status quo,' the association said.