Hand back the future to the people
Beijing's famously disciplined united front has sounded a rare note of disharmony lately.
Days after Peking University law don Rao Geping said corporate voting could be abolished if the Legislative Council approved the government's electoral reform package, Zhang Rongshun was quoted as ruling out such a possibility.
As the National People's Congress' Basic Law Committee vice-chairman, Zhang is a senior colleague of Rao. If he was quoted correctly by New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who was present at the meeting hosted by Zhang, Beijing has effectively ruled out even this small concession or compromise as a good will gesture. As my erudite pan-democrat friend Jenny used to reproach me, it takes two to compromise, just as it is to tango. Professor Rao is perfectly reasonable. The corporate votes in the current election committee and future nominating committee mirror the composition of the rotten boroughs of functional constituencies in the legislature, a source of manipulation, corruption and backdoor dealings.
Abolishing both the trade constituencies and their corporate votes are requisite for developing a more healthy and representative electoral system. This is independent of the bargaining over the Legco vote for the 2017 chief executive election.
But not only does Beijing refuse to use abolishing those corrupt votes as a bargaining chip, it has made it loud and clear it sides with the monopolistic tycoons and business leaders who are more than eager to keep those votes. Zhang was quoted as saying any nominating committee must not incline towards populism. In other words, monopolistic market practices are preferable.
Those tycoons and business leaders who are intelligent and wise should see the writing on the wall. Unless ordinary people have a fairer share of the economic rewards and opportunities, the social and political conflicts that have manifested themselves through such mass protests as the Occupy rallies would only worsen.
If they want to give back to the community, which has been so generous to them, they should look beyond mere philanthropy to handing back the future to the people of Hong Kong.