Professor Larry Diamond, an internationally renowned scholar in democracy studies, said the Hong Kong government’s proposal for the 2017 election cannot qualify as a political reform as it screens the candidates for chief executive to ensure that the winner is acceptable to Beijing.
In a written reply to questions by Ming Pao Daily reporters, Diamond used George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984 as a metaphor for the Chinese Communist Party’s practice of packaging lies as truth.
Diamond said a mere name or tag would not be able to turn something that does not exist into a reality.
He said the Chinese central government has ruled out any hope for political reform and has also refused to hold dialogs with the pan-democrats.
The only way to increase the democracy content of the chief executive election in 2017 is to abolish the screening process by the nomination committee for prospective candidates, which is not at all democratic, he said.
Diamond suggested that any person who has secured 120 votes from the 1,200-strong nomination committee should automatically become a chief executive candidate.
But under the framework designed by the National People’s Congress, there is simply no chance for a democratic election, he said.
It is obvious that there is no democracy in the existing proposal, there will not be any in 2017 and there will never be any in the minds of the NPC members, he said.
Diamond said under the government proposal, there is likely to be two to three candidates with some level of competition. However, he said, the winner of the election will have to be a person Beijing accepts, and as such, the competition is not really meaningful.
The pan-democrats can either pick a figure who enjoys huge public support to run for candidacy in order to embarrass Beijing when the candidate fails to become a candidate, or to simply vote down the proposal, he said.
Diamond is a professor of sociology and political science at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative policy think tank.
He was a mentor and thesis adviser to Executive Council member Regina Ip in 2003 when she returned to Stanford University to pursue a master’s degree in East Asian studies.
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