Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

Business Professionals Alliance 'has no fear' of direct elections

Chairman of the new party says it is open to ideas on political reform - but it's time to put a stop to bickering between rival camps

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 5:17am

The newly formed Business and Professionals Alliance will not stand in the way of any possible routes towards universal suffrage and is ready to start work on contesting direct elections, chairman Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen says.

Six of the group's seven legislators represent functional constituencies, which democrats want abolished as part of moves towards full democracy.

Leung, the industrial-sector legislator, said the alliance would be open to any suggestions for political reform.

"We would be glad to discuss, with anyone, any proposals that could be passed," he said.

"A political grouping has no future if it does not prepare itself for universal suffrage. It is an irreversible trend."

Under the Basic Law, any reform proposal requires support from two-thirds of lawmakers, which translates to at least 47 votes out of 70.

The pan-democrats have made clear that they will accept nothing less than "genuine universal suffrage" in the 2017 chief executive election.

That would mean a low nomination threshold, the right for all eligible electors to vote, and the right to nominate others and stand for election. They have also called for abolition of the indirectly elected functional constituencies by 2020.

Leung said the alliance, now the second-biggest party in the legislature, "has no fear" of contesting direct elections and would start at the district level. More than 200 members had joined the party since it was officially established last month, of which 20 were district councillors, he noted.

The alliance was a rebranding of the former Economic Synergy grouping. Members were mostly supporters of Henry Tang Ying-yen, the former chief secretary who lost to Leung Chun-ying last year in the race for the top job.

But Andrew Leung said it was time to "put a stop" to the feud between the rival camps and the alliance would take a pragmatic approach in supporting the government.

"Leung won the race legally and he is now the winner. Being anti-C.Y. is no different from throwing a stone at my own foot," he said. "But we will not support him or the government blindly."

Looking ahead to the chief executive's maiden policy address next week, the alliance head said he believed there would be no quick fix to the city's long-standing problems, such as housing and social welfare.

He also called for measures to boost the economy in the policy address.

"We rarely hear the chief executive talk about initiatives to support tourism or small- and medium-sized enterprises. If the government does not start investing in the economy, we could be surpassed by Shenzhen or Guangzhou very soon."