Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Monday that he can’t promise that functional constituencies will be abolished in 2020, dashing hopes for direct elections for all lawmakers in the Legislative Council (LegCo) polls due that year.
Leung also said that elections in 2017 to choose the next chief executive will be carried out under the framework laid out on Aug. 31 last year by the National People’s Congress (NPC), am730 reported.
Under the process endorsed by NPC, only candidates vetted by a pro-Beijing committee will be allowed to run for Hong Kong’s top executive post.
Beijing’s wishes must be obeyed, Leung said, adding that the only alternative to following the NPC plan is to maintain the status quo, under which the chief executive is chosen by a 1,200-strong election committee handpicked by Beijing, and under which only half of Hong Kong’s lawmakers are directly elected.
Hong Kong is now in an all or nothing situation, Leung said, adding that any decision by LegCo on reform plan has to be approved by the NPC Standing Committee.
Currently, 35 of LegCo’s 70 members are directly elected from geographical constituencies, while 5 are returned from District Council functional constituency by direct elections. The remaining 30 members come from functional constituencies through indirect elections, representing groups such as businesses, professionals, labor unions, civic and religious groups.
The abolition of the functional constituencies and the direct election of all 70 seats was a key demand of the protesters during the Occupy movement last year.
Elsie Leung, former justice chief and a Basic Law Committee member, said in a newspaper article on Monday that it’s unrealistic to demand a timeframe for universal suffrage as well as to ask the NPC Standing Committee to abolish functional constituencies. Such demands would be tantamount to rejecting the NPC committee’s decision, she said.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam said at a forum on political forum on Monday that it is too early to say whether the LegCo elections in 2020 will follow the same pattern as the 2017 election. But she stressed that there would be no give-and-take deals with lawmakers over the reform package.
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