Date
19 August 2017
Bar Association chairman Paul Shieh (L) has urged Hong Kong's Chief Secretary Carrie Lam (R) not to reject any proposals regarding the election process for the city's top post offhand. Photos: HKEJ
Bar Association chairman Paul Shieh (L) has urged Hong Kong's Chief Secretary Carrie Lam (R) not to reject any proposals regarding the election process for the city's top post offhand. Photos: HKEJ

Barristers warn against summary rejection of CE poll proposals

If the Hong Kong government rejects any proposal regarding the candidate selection for the chief executive election without offering proper explanation, it would constitute an “irresponsible” act, the Hong Kong Bar Association said.

Although the government has taken the view that a particular proposal is inconsistent with the Basic Law, simply rejecting the proposal off hand or recommending to the central authorities in Beijing to dismiss the suggestion will not be correct, the association said in a report released Thursday.

Instead, the government should positively consider and explore the “rationale” and “underlying objective” of such proposals and make efforts to accommodate them by “alternative methods”, it said, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

It is “incumbent” on the government to explain the reasons, whether political or otherwise, to the public why it feels it cannot put forward such proposals, the association said.

Even though it would technically not be compatible with the Basic Law, the underlying objective to ensure maximum participation of the general electorate in the nomination process is “perfectly” compatible with the concept of the “nomination committee”, it said.

If the government merely uses the Basic law as a reason to reject or put aside such proposal on the ground of doing things according to the Basic Law without any attempt to address public concerns, it would amount to “misuse and abuse of the concept of the Rule of Law”, it said.

The comments came as the Hong Kong government is preparing to send a report to Beijing next week about the state of discussions on proposals for universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election.

Pro-democracy activists have proposed a system of open, public nomination of candidates for the city’s top post. Right now, Hong Kong’s leader is chosen by a 1,200-member election committee mostly packed with Beijing loyalists.

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JZ/JP/RC

Freelance journalist

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