Former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa on Wednesday urged pan-democratic lawmakers not to veto a controversial political reform package announced by China and to set aside their differences with Beijing to achieve universal suffrage in 2017.
Tung, vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top advisory body, said he fully understands the pan-democrats’ anger and disappointment.
“Most Hong Kong people have a sharp political sense and mature minds, and most of them are sensible and patriotic, no matter whether they support pan-democrats or the establishment,” Tung said.
Nevertheless, Tung said Hong Kong has made a “historic step” toward democracy from the old days when Britain used to send its governors to Hong Kong and in 1997 when he was chosen to be its first chief executive by an elite group of 400 people.
The nominating committee was expanded to 800 and further to 1,200, and a new chapter will be opened in 2017 when five million voters directly elect their leader, he said.
He called the exercise “real and substantial” democracy.
“From 2017 onward, the people of Hong Kong will elect the chief executive by universal suffrage, fulfilling the collective aspirations of Hong Kong,” he said.
Tung said 2017 is not the finish line for Hong Kong’s democratic development. “If, after 2017, we desire to further develop the democratic system, there is a mechanism within the Basic Law for us to do so,” he said.
“Today, on the eve of Hong Kong’s crucial development in our long history, on the verge of our going for the biggest political leap, how can we possibly choose to stand still?”
Tung said he is “resolutely opposed” to the Occupy Central movement, adding that “we may have our differences of views, but we have the same hope to see Hong Kong succeed and prosper”.
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