Majority in poll opposes Beijing screening candidates for top job

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2014, 4:18am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2014, 8:24am

More than half of Hongkongers say candidates should be allowed to run for chief executive in 2017 if they are endorsed by one-eighth of nominating committee members, a survey has found.

About 60 per cent wanted the Legislative Council to vote down any electoral reform package that screens out critics of Beijing.

Beijing-loyalist politicians have repeatedly said they expect the National People's Congress Standing Committee to require candidates to win half of the nominating committee's support to run in the election, the first time the city's leader will be picked by universal suffrage.

Arrangements for the election will be announced by the Standing Committee, which meets from August 25 to 31.

The Chinese University opinion poll was commissioned by former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang's discussion group Hong Kong 2020.

She said: "If the Standing Committee sets the bar at over half of the nominating committee in order to qualify as a candidate, this would undoubtedly be a step backward. This would be a fake universal suffrage that is no different from [allowing] Beijing to hand-pick [a leader] … and it cannot solve the governance difficulties that Hong Kong [currently faces]."

Chan noted that the Democratic Party's Albert Ho Chun-yan was allowed to run in the 2012 election after meeting the one-eighth nominating requirement.

In the poll, in which 824 Cantonese-speaking Hongkongers were interviewed between August 6 and 11, 20.8 per cent wanted to keep the one-eighth nominating threshold; 32.7 per cent wanted it to be lowered; and 35.2 per cent wanted it to be raised.

If the government tables a proposal that screens out Beijing's critics, 59.8 per cent said lawmakers should veto it, while 30.6 per cent said that they should approve it.

This was in contrast to a Lingnan University opinion survey, commissioned by a 15-member group of businessmen and professionals, which found that 55 per cent of 1,017 people wanted a "one-person, one-vote" election in 2017 even if the nomination procedure was not "satisfactory".

On whether the two surveys contradicted each other, Chan said: "No, I don't think they are contradictory. For example, when you ask people whether they want to pocket a proposal that is not ideal, what is the definition of 'not ideal'?"