22 April 2019
Lawmaker Leung Ka-lau says he will vote against the Beijng-backed election framework if it came up before Legco today. Photo: HKEJ
Lawmaker Leung Ka-lau says he will vote against the Beijng-backed election framework if it came up before Legco today. Photo: HKEJ

Medical professionals have a prescription for election reform

Hong Kong’s medical professionals are weighing in on the impasse over electoral reform with their own prescription: they want Legco to vote down a Beijing-backed proposal for the 2017 chief executive election.

And they want the government to face the consequences.  

Lawmaker Leung Ka-lau, who represents the medical constituency, took the pulse of more than 3,000 healthcare professionals to gauge their views amid an aggressive campaign by the government to get Hong Kong people to support the proposal.

More than half of the respondents in Leung’s survey said they want Legco to defeat the framework endorsed in August last year by China’s legislature.

If the proposal is rejected, they said the government should be made ultimately accountable for the outcome.

Leung, a pro-Beijing politician, said he would vote against the proposal if it came up before Legco now.

This is significant because the government has always counted Leung in its corner.

That means the government needs one more vote, on top of the four it is targeting from the pan-democrat camp, to ensure passage of the reform package.

More significantly, Leung may have opened the floodgates for other like-minded professionals.

Accountants, teachers, lawyers, social workers and other sectors opposed to the proposal could pressure their Legco representatives to vote their wishes.     

The government’s strongest argument is that Hong Kong people will be able to directly elect their leader in 2017.

It dominates an ongoing campaign to win voters’ hearts and minds which gives scant mention to the fact that Hongkongers will only be able to choose from a list of two to three candidates pre-screened by Beijing. They cannot nominate any candidates.

It’s the latter Hong Kong people strongly object to. They say that makes the whole exercise a sham.

Some professionals have dismissed Beijing’s proposal as a breach of the Basic Law which allows Hong Kong to set its own election framework rather than Beijing. 

The NPC decision is aimed at weeding out unfriendly politicians, ensuring whoever leads Hong Kong will be subservient to Beijing.

In recent weeks, the political atmosphere in Hong Kong has worsened, with Beijing accusing pro-democracy groups of working with “foreign forces” to subvert its sovereignty over Hong Kong.

Then came a warning from Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying during his policy address last month about attempts by certain groups to incite independence for Hong Kong.  

It’s no surprise that Hong Kong people feel increasingly alienated. Their biggest fear now is how all this will affect their basic freedoms under “one country, two systems”.

Even some pro-Beijing politicians have expressed concern about the widening gap between the government and the public.

Andrew Leung, chairman of the pro-government Business and Professionals Alliance, said a wider survey will help legislators gauge the public pulse and help them decide how to vote on the proposal.

Its’ about time.

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EJ Insight writer

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