Date
25 September 2017
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam (left) has dismissed calls for a referendum or by-election. The proposal is  backed by Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai (right) and other pro-democracy groups. Photos: HKEJ, CNSA
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam (left) has dismissed calls for a referendum or by-election. The proposal is backed by Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai (right) and other pro-democracy groups. Photos: HKEJ, CNSA

Carrie Lam rejects referendum, by-election proposal

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam has rejected calls for a referendum or by-election, saying they are unrealistic and not legally binding, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.

Lam said referendums are not part of Hong Kong’s election framework and a by-election or general election would cost more than HK$100 million (US$12.89 million).

The proposals were made by pro-democracy protesters who have been occupying major streets for a second month.

Lester Shum, deputy secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), said by-elections triggered by the voluntary resignation of some lawmakers could serve as a quasi-referendum, allowing the government to gauge the public pulse.

He said HKFS will discuss the feasibility of such a proposal with other protest groups and pan-democrat legislators.

Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai earlier suggested the dissolution of the legislature if Beijing’s proposed political reform for the 2017 chief executive election is voted down.

A general election would then allow voters to express their political choices, Tai was quoted as saying. 

Tai cited Article 50 of the Basic Law which states that the chief executive may dissolve the legislature if an important bill introduced by the government is vetoed and a “consensus still cannot be reached after consultation”.

Basic Law Committee member Maria Tam said Article 50 only applies to local bills that can be adopted merely with the chief executive’s approval.

Electoral reform proposals require approval by the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee and therefore not in the scope of Article 50, she said.

Some Hong Kong NPC deputies and several members of the Executive Council also rejected a quasi-referendum.

Executive councilor Fanny Law, an NPC deputy, said such an exercise is a waste of government money.

She said HKFS does not represent the people of Hong Kong and the proposal does not reflect their wishes.

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