Date
21 August 2017
For Beijing, democratic reform is not the most important goal under "one country, two systems", Lau Siu-kai says. Photo: HKEJ
For Beijing, democratic reform is not the most important goal under "one country, two systems", Lau Siu-kai says. Photo: HKEJ

Electoral reform: die is cast for now, Lau says

The central government had decided long ago that candidates for the Hong Kong chief executive election must have the support of more than half of the nominating committee, said Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies.

His view dismisses criticism that what the pan-democrats are doing has made Beijing more cautious about electoral reform, the Hong Kong Commercial Daily reported Friday.

Democratic reform is only a target under “one country, two systems”. That target is not the most important one because stability and prosperity as well as national security are far more important issues, Lau was cited as saying.

Hong Kong people are not thinking through on national security, Lau said. He believes Beijing prefers to stay conservative on political reform and progress toward democracy will be gradual as the country is facing threats domestically and globally.

Lau’s view is contrary to that of pro-Beijing politicians, including Cheung Yiu-tong and Michael Tien Puk-sun, who say pan-democrats are wasting their time.

Cheng, a Hong Kong representative to the National People’s Congress (NPC), said there will not be any changes on Beijing’s framework for political reform even after a series of meetings between pan-democrats and Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government liaison office, starting on Friday, the Hong Kong Commercial Daily said.

Peter Wong Man-kong, another NPC Hong Kong representative, said Hongkongers should give up the dream of public nomination. He said the central government will still listen to the public’s views but will not consider public nomination as this does not comply with the Basic Law.

Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau will join the Occupy Central movement if there is no satisfactory outcome on reform, the report said.

Tien, the deputy chairman of the New People’s Party, said the pan-democrats are shooting themselves in the foot for the chaos they created in lobbying for universal suffrage.

But he believes the pan-democrats could still support the Hong Kong government’s reform proposal if it is supported by the public.

Tien said the tightening of entry requirements on the candidates is mainly due to the deteriorating relations between the administration and lawmakers owing to filibustering in the legislature.

Rao Geping, a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee and a law professor at Peking University, earlier said that it is risky to let any candidate from the pan-democratic camp pass the nomination committee as such a move, in Beijing’s view, will increase the uncertainty of the outcome in the public voting stage.

If a person who does not toe the Beijing line were to be elected as Hong Kong chief executive, the central government will face a difficult situation as to whether it should use its veto power to reject his appointment, Rao said.

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AM/JP/JL

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