China is open to improvements to the electoral reform package, contrary to claims by pan-democrats, according to the top Beijing official responsible for Hong Kong and Macau.
Wang Guangya, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said the notion that accepting the reform bill in its present form precludes future improvements is misleading.
He accused pan-democrats of sowing confusion over the proposal in an interview with pro-Beijing newspapers Wen Wei Pao and Ta Kung Pao on Tuesday.
Lawmakers are set to debate the Beijing-backed election bill Wednesday and a vote is expected before the week is out, probably by Thursday afternoon.
Wang said no legal system stays the same forever and election laws can be changed.
In Hong Kong’s case, the changes can be made to the election bill after it becomes law, he said.
He criticized personal attacks on pro-reform legislators, calling them illegal and undemocratic and dismissed claims Beijing tried to bribe legislators to support the measure.
Pan-democrats quickly shot down Wang comments, saying these were a rehash of previous official statements, and reaffirmed their opposition to the bill.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong said his party’s six votes are enough to derail the proposed legislation.
And fellow legislator James Tien, honorary chairman of the Liberal Party, said nothing can change public opinion on the controversial plan unless President Xi Jinping speaks on the issue.
Pro-democracy groups say that although the proposal promises direct election of Hong Kong’s next leader by popular vote, it is a sham because Beijing decides who gets to be nominated.
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