Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

Pan-democrats unite for 'genuine' universal suffrage

Parties put aside rifts to form alliance to fight for "genuine" democracy, but tensions remain

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 5:17am

In a rare show of unity, the pan-democrats yesterday formed the Alliance for True Democracy to fight for "genuine" universal suffrage.

But undercurrents of tension have started to emerge, as long-standing rifts threaten to undermine the group.

The Alliance for True Democracy, comprising all 27 lawmakers from 12 pan-democratic groups, is the first successful attempt to unite the camp since a split over strategy in 2010.

The alliance includes mainstream democrats such as the Democratic Party and the Civic Party, as well as radical factions, including People Power and the League of Social Democrats. Convenor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, a political scientist at City University, said the alliance's priority would be to strive for public support in the political reform debate, and to form a consensus proposal by the end of the year.

Cheng added that it would not rule out participating in the Occupy Central movement - a plan proposed by University of Hong Kong law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting to block the traffic in Central to pressure Beijing on universal suffrage - or negotiating with the central government in the second stage.

He said the group would oppose a screening mechanism for chief executive candidates, as advocated in recent weeks by pro-Beijing heavyweights in Hong Kong. "The nomination threshold [for chief executive candidates] must not be higher than now, and the nomination process must not lead to any kind of political screening," he said.

"The notion of 'love the country, love Hong Kong' is a value judgment. More importantly, who are they to lay the judgment?" Cheng asked.

The notion of 'love the country, love Hong Kong' is a value judgment. More importantly, who are they to lay the judgment?

The government has not yet started a consultation on the political reform, despite calls for one from across the political spectrum.

The reform will likely determine the rules for the 2016 Legislative Council election and for universal suffrage in the 2017 Chief Executive poll.

But the unity of the alliance remained the focus of the press conference yesterday, with questions directed at the friction between People Power and other parties.

People Power had earlier said it would quit the group if its three demands, including universal suffrage at the Legco election in 2016, were not agreed to by other parties at the end of the consensus-building phase.

"Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, of the League, said it was usual for different parties to have their own stance. "Otherwise, we do not need an alliance because we are already one party."