Date
18 October 2017
Chris Patten says the government of Leung Chun-ying has considerable room for maneuver. Photo: Wikipedia
Chris Patten says the government of Leung Chun-ying has considerable room for maneuver. Photo: Wikipedia

Chris Patten: Time for protest to move to a sensible endgame

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest should move to a sensible endgame but the government must show some statesmanship which the protesters “would surely reciprocate”, former governor Chris Patten said.

The longer the standoff, the more likely it is that individual citizens – and Hong Kong itself – will be hurt, Patten wrote in a Project Syndicate article.

“A substantive and successful dialogue with the government would not require the protesters to call off their campaign for democracy,” he said.

“It would simply end the current phase of a campaign that eventually will succeed.”

Patten said the government of Leung Chun-ying has considerable room for maneuver.

Beijing’s current position on electoral reform is based on a report by Leung’s government which purported to reflect accurately the outcome of local consultations on constitutional development, he said.

“But the report plainly understated the degree of public support for change.”

The first issue concerns the terms on which the chief executive will be elected in 2017 and also how the Legislative Council should be elected in 2016 and after.

The procedure is largely a matter for the Hong Kong government to decide, he said.

The second issue concerns the composition and the voting rules of the handpicked 1,200-member nomination committee for the chief executive election.

“The Hong Kong government could call for changes to increase the openness and fairness by which the chief executive is chosen, without abandoning its current method in favor of universal suffrage,” he said.

Patten, the last colonial governor, said it’s surprising that 17 years after the handover of sovereignty from the United Kingdom to China, Hong Kong still does not have a directly elected legislature.

“That is why Leung should embrace dialogue and compromise,” he said.

“Even a ruler whose mandate comes from heaven should heed the words of the Confucian sage Mencius: ‘Heaven sees with the eyes of its people. Heaven hears with the ears of its people’.”

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RA/JL

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