Hong Kong people have a historic opportunity to directly elect their next leader and they should take it, government broadcaster RTHK reported, citing Chief Secretary Carrie Lam.
“One person, one vote is a big step in our democratic progress and we hope Hong Kong people will cherish the opportunity,” Lam was quoted as saying.
Five million eligible voters will to choose Hong Kong’s next chief executive in 2017.
Lam was renewing an earlier call to Hong Kong people to “take it first” as the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s legislature, moved closer to an announcement regarding an election reform proposal expected on Sunday.
She was referring to growing expectations China will unveil a package Hong Kong pro-democracy groups say will be a sham version of universal suffrage.
Lam, who was attending a food consciousness activity, said universal suffrage is like food, so Hong Kong people should treasure it.
Meanwhile, at a separate event, Occupy Central organizer Chan Kin-man described any half-baked electoral reform proposal as “poisoned food”.
Lam was joined in her call by former financial secretary Antony Leung who said lawmakers and citizens should take into account the long-term interests of Hong Kong and do things that are good for Hong Kong.
“Most people want universal suffrage. If their hopes are dashed, it would hamper governance,” Leung said.
He said universal suffrage will attract more capable people to participate in politics.
“What worries many people the most is not politics. Instead, they are concerned about the economic development of Hong Kong and worried that Hong Kong may lose out to its neighbors in long-term competitiveness,” Leung said.
Meanwhile Cheng Yiu-tong, a Hong Kong delegate to the NPC and president of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, criticized Occupy Central, a civil disobedience group which is threatening to blockade the main business and financial district if the election package does not meet international standards.
Cheng said Occupy Central is like a child who keeps crying even though it is already being fed with milk, RTHK reported.
The election reform proposal is expected to include universal suffrage and a stringent screening process that requires candidates to have the support of at least half of a nominating committee controlled by Beijing.
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