Democracy alliance chief urges unity to beat chief executive candidate screening

Camp must work together, says alliance convenor, as Democrats weigh walk-out because of radicals' backing for public nomination in 2017 poll

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 May, 2014, 4:58am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 May, 2014, 4:58am

The convenor of an alliance of pan-democrat lawmakers has urged his camp to unite in opposition to the political screening of candidates for the 2017 chief executive election.

The decision by supporters of Occupy Central to back three electoral reform blueprints that call for public nomination of candidates has split the Alliance for True Democracy.

The Democratic Party is considering leaving the alliance, which comprises all but one of the 27 pan-democratic lawmakers, after two radical groups - People Power and the League of Social Democrats - reneged on a promise to support the alliance's three-track proposal for candidate nominations in a vote by Occupy supporters last Tuesday.

"We will carefully consider all possibilities, including quitting the alliance, reducing our participation, or urging People Power and the League of Social Democrats to quit," Democrats vice-chairman Sin Chung-kai said.

Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, the alliance's convenor, said only unity could give the camp sufficient strength to bargain with Beijing. "Our core struggle is to fight off political screening in the 2017 chief executive election. Only unity can mobilise Hongkongers' support, enabling us to exert pressure on Beijing and the government," said Cheng (pictured).

Some 2,500 supporters of the pro-democracy Occupy movement chose three plans to put to a public vote from June 20 to 22.

The winning plan will be championed by the non-violent civil disobedience movement, which plans to block roads in Central if the government fails to deliver an electoral reform proposal it deems meaningful.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a co-founder of Occupy, said pan-democrat lawmakers were not tied to supporting the plan that wins the June vote.

On Tuesday, instead of supporting the alliance's plan - which allows voters, parties and a nominating committee to put forward candidates - People Power and the League backed plans from student group Scholarism and People Power itself.

Public nomination has been rejected by the government and Beijing. Proposals by former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, which did not include public nomination, received little support from Occupy backers.

The government, whose reform plan is expected by the end of this year, needs four votes from pan-democrats for any plan to pass in the Legislative Council.

Moderate pan-democrats are sceptical of the Occupy vote. "The most ardent supporters of proposals with public nomination do not want to talk with Beijing at all," said Tong. "Are you asking the moderates to take those plans to negotiate [with Beijing]? That is impossible."

Chan said "pragmatic yet imperfect" proposals were worth considering as many people "did not want to directly clash with Beijing".