21 October 2018
Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong (center) is shown with some members of the pan-democratic camp. Photo: HKEJ
Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong (center) is shown with some members of the pan-democratic camp. Photo: HKEJ

What have HK pan-democrats done to uphold true democracy?

A lack of consensus among pan-democrats on Hong Kong’s political reform could boost the chances of Beijing’s preferred roadmap being adopted.

Beijing’s proposal would screen candidates for the 2017 chief executive election, a process that could nudge Hong Kong toward a Chinese-style democracy.

Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong highlighted a divided public opinion when he threatened to resign if he finds the final form of Hong Kong’s electoral reform unacceptable, saying consensus is his main priority.   

Unlike other pan-democrats who are fighting for the public nomination model, Tong is suggesting expanding the 1,200-strong election committee that elected the chief executive in 2012 by including all popularly elected district councilors. The expanded panel will then nominate the candidates for chief executive.

This is similar to Beijing’s preferred mechanism.  

The split in the pan-democratic camp shows weakness in the alliance and underscores its frustration in its efforts to promote an “open and fair” election and put principle over politics.

Critics acknowledge that public nomination is illegal under the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution, but said that should not stop the opposition from standing up for it, rather than accept an unfair and subjective screening process.

Beijing officials have previously said candidates who oppose Communist Party rule in China and those not having a “Love China Love Hong Kong” attitude will not be allowed to participate in the election.

Those conditions disqualify some opposition politicians outright.

Pan-democrats have been arguing for a long time whether or not public nomination should be a must in the chief executive election proposal.

Democratic groups such as People Power and League of Social Democrats, as well as student organization Scholarism, are standing firm in promoting the public nomination model.

On the other hand, the Democratic Party, one of the oldest parties in the opposition, said public nomination is only one option, raising concern the party is beginning to toe the Beijing line.

Occupy Central, a movement organized by scholars and pastors, will host a civil referendum from June 20 to 22. It will put forward specific proposals on public nomination for the next chief executive who will be elected by universal suffrage.

A poll of more than 1,000 people by the public opinion program of the University of Hong Kong found 57 percent don’t want pan-democrats in the election.

That shows Hong Kong people have had enough of the argument between Beijing and Hong Kong’s opposition camp and could accept a less-than-perfect proposal for picking the candidates. At least they can cast their votes in the election.

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EJ Insight writer

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