My Take

Pan-dems may have to compromise

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 4:40am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 4:40am

Revolutions start because rentiers who enjoy long-standing privileges and perks refuse to recognise they are way past their use-by dates.

Let's face it. The functional constituencies exist at the moment not so they can better represent the private sector, offer technical expertise or consult the government. Those rotten boroughs are there so they can guarantee a predictable voting majority for the government, especially when it comes to voting on the government's universal suffrage package for the chief executive election.

In this respect, I agree, for once, with the Alliance for True Democracy that the constituencies need to be phased out. Their idea is to sharply reduce the current 35 functional constituency seats in Legco to 20 by 2016 and then a fully democratic legislature in 2020. You can tweak the numbers but the direction sounds right. It's even possible that the government might agree with this plan in principle because it will not need the constituencies' votes by 2016; their votes are only needed for the current Legco to vote on the CE election package.

There is, however, just one problem. For this plan to succeed fully, you need to pass the CE election reform for 2017. This is because the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress has stipulated that universal suffrage in 2017 is a precondition for a fully elected legislature in or after 2020.

If the pan-democrats fail to obtain public nomination from the government, they would likely in return veto the government's CE reform package. But you may argue they may still achieve - in a separate government reform package for the legislature - the half-measure of significantly reducing the number of functional constituencies in 2016. But it's unlikely those in the FC seats would play ball if there is no progress on the CE election front. After all, you are asking them to voluntarily give up their seats by voting for their destruction.

Everything goes back to the CE election reform. If the pan-dems give up their demand for public nomination but fight for a "broadly representative" if flawed nomination committee, they have a better chance of winning on both the Legco and CE election fronts. Otherwise, they - and Hong Kong - risk being left with little or nothing.