Beijing is unlikely to scrap the functional constituencies in Hong Kong as sought by some pan-democratic groups, said Lau Siu-kai, a member of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and former chief adviser to the Hong Kong government.
Instead, the central government is willing to add the element of universal suffrage in the election of representatives of functional constituencies, the Hong Kong Economic Journal quoted Lau as telling the Digital Broadcasting Corp. Hong Kong Ltd. in a radio interview.
Lau, currently vice chairman of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said central authorities deem functional constituencies important in the implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle in the territory.
He said functional constituencies are an effective tool in preventing Hong Kong from turning into a base of anti-Beijing activities.
Functional constituencies are professional and industry groups involved in the electoral process. Although they represent narrow interest groups, they constitute a large part of the Legislative Council.
Some pan-democratic politicians are considering accepting the government’s controversial electoral reform program for the 2017 chief executive election if the central government promises to scrap functional constituencies by 2020.
Lau, however, doubts if Beijing will agree to such an arrangement as it sees Hong Kong as becoming more difficult to govern. He cites the pro-democracy Occupy movement as an example of the challenges posed by the territory to the central government’s authority.
Lawmakers, including Emily Lau and Charles Peter Mok, said Lau’s comments will only further dampen Hong Kong people’s confidence in the central government’s sincerity in implementing universal suffrage in the city.
Translation by Vey Wong
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