Pan-democrats’ stand ‘unfavourable’ to reach consensus, says top legal professor

Albert Chen questions whether public nomination demand is ‘realistic’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2014, 12:39pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2014, 12:39pm


Pan-democrats’ insistence on public nomination is an “unfavourable” approach to reach consensus, a pro-Beijing legal scholar warned today.

Basic Law Committee member and University of Hong Kong law professor Albert Chen Hung-yee’s warning came a day after pan-democratic lawmakers said they will continue to call for the right for the public to be allowed to put forward candidates for the 2017 chief executive election, although Beijing officials told them in a meeting in Shanghai on Sunday there was no possibility the idea would be accepted.

Pan-democrats argued that without a nominating committee elected by a large mandate, universal suffrage would be unable to solve the chief executive’s credibility problem.

But speaking on a RTHK programme, Chen questioned whether it is “realistic” for the pan-democrats’ to insist on public nomination.

“Pan-democrats’ stance is that as long as the National People’s Congress Standing Committee doesn’t make a formal interpretation, they will insist on public nomination. I think this is rather theoretical … because realistically, we knew from officials from different levels of the central and local governments, [that there was no] possibility that Beijing would agree that public nomination complies with the Basic Law,” Chen said.

“I think the pan-democrats’ insistence on public nomination is unfavourable for reaching a consensus with the central government through talks and negotiations,” he added.

Chen had proposed allowing “public recommendation” instead, and allowing the nominating committee to have the power to endorse five candidates to be put forward for the public votes – possibly including those recommended by the public.

Earlier this month, a group of 18 pro-democracy academics including Chinese University academic and former Legislative Council president Andrew Wong Wang-fat, proposed allowing candidates who received support from 2 per cent of registered voters – approximately 70,000 people – to have their name put to the 1,200-strong nominating committee as a possible candidate, and then those who win the support of one-eighth of the committee will go forward to the public vote.

Chen reiterated this morning that the proposal was worth consideration, saying that public recommendation respected the committee’s nominating power more than public nomination. But he said some from the pro-establishment camp might dislike it because it doesn’t set a definite cap on the number of candidates in the public election.