Beijing should strive to realize universal suffrage in the territory to win back the hearts of many Hongkongers who have lost their faith in the “one country, two systems” principle, former chief secretary for administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang said.
In an interview with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Chan stressed that universal suffrage is the core of “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy” principle that the central government has promised to implement since the city’s return to China in 1997.
Allowing each Hong Kong citizen to choose their leader via direct election is something that Beijing should not be worried about, said Chan, who launched the political group Hong Kong 2020 in 2013 to help monitor the progress of constitutional reform in the city.
She said the main reason why some people, especially the young ones, have been advocating Hong Kong independence is that they do not believe Beijing would fulfill its promise.
Chan said outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should be held accountable for failing to guard the “one country, two systems” principle by letting Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong interfere increasingly in the city’s affairs during the past five years.
But it is not too late for Beijing to correct the situation, she said, because the new administration under Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will soon come to power, and that provides a good opportunity to turn a new leaf.
Chan suggested that the central government should grab the chance and form channels to improve communications with different groups, including the youth, instead of seeking to find who should be responsible for breaking the mutual trust between Hong Kong and Beijing.
There will be very serious consequences to the future of both Hong Kong and the country as a whole if the “one country, two systems” principle proves to be a failure, she warned.
Asked what she thinks of the new cabinet that will begin to function on July 1, Chan said she could not call it a “dream team”, noting that the Liaison Office must have been involved in the selection process as Lam had refused to erase such a suspicion when asked about it by media on a number of occasions.
Chan called on the Liaison Office to stay out of the new government’s operations and let it do its job, adding that she is convinced Lam can be a good leader based on her experience and devotion to work.
Chan also mentioned that she has never agreed with the Principal Officials Accountability System that was introduced in 2002 by Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong’s first chief executive.
The system cannot be effective without implementing universal suffrage since it gives the chief executive absolute power to appoint all principal officials, Chan said.