Abolishing functional constituencies is in overall interests of Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 June, 2015, 5:26pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 June, 2015, 5:26pm

To meet the request of Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung for political reform alternatives, acceptable to the pro-establishment camp, to the central government and to "Hong Kong society", is a real challenge.

Our government needs to join with citizens to persuade the pro-establishment camp and central government we need a commitment to reform.

It is in the overall interests of Hong Kong if the globally-shunned functional constituencies are eliminated. Their vested interests twist legislative results and paralyse reforms, even those good for free markets. Whether in New Territories housing or competition; the environment or voting rights, stagnation alienates the people from the government.

Some pro-establishment forces have the illusion that "corporatocracy" is good for you. The government should remind them that the richest economic achievement is always accompanied by high levels of democracy and low levels of autocracy, except only where oil gushes freely and in Singapore; but Singapore citizens have freedom to stand for election and one man, one vote. The Basic Law does not insist on predatory capitalism. Reduced corporate political power will benefit Hong Kong through more legitimate government and a more competitive economy.

So the first requirement for a patriotic chief executive is to promise the functional constituencies will be abolished and get the central government to commit to this formal target, consistent with the Basic Law. If necessary, the scrapping of these constituencies can be done in two stages, corporate voting being abolished first.

Second, despite the central government's implacable support for the Standing Committee's decision on public nomination, our government must pursue a broader "freedom to stand" in future.

There must be promises of a 12.5 per cent nomination threshold; abolition of corporate voting; and, official permission for nominating committee members to weigh a candidate's public support.

Third, without proof of government sincerity on commitment to progress, pan-democrats have no reason to support the reforms. We know the pan-democrats want progress. All doubts concern the sincerity of the government, a doubt reinforced by public statements of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on people earning less than US$1,800, and the government's general treatment of the pan-democrats as a bunch of naughty schoolboys. The burden is on the government to prove it is interested in genuine progress.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels