Pro-democracy members of the Election Committee are split over the nomination issue.
Some are supporting John Tsang because they believe it is the only way to prevent Beijing’s handpicked candidate Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor from getting elected, while others insist they should nominate their own candidates in view of Tsang’s refusal to set aside the so-called 831 Resolution of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in pursuing political reform.
Endorsing Tsang, some argue, would not only betray their own democratic ideals, but also fail the people of Hong Kong.
While the pan-democrats find themselves in such a bind, there is in fact a good way to legitimize their support for Tsang.
They can endorse him without risking being accused of betraying the democratic cause by joining the civil nomination scheme proposed by University of Hong Kong law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting.
Under the scheme, anyone who intends to run for chief executive can submit an election platform to his team, which will then publicize it online and allow citizens to decide whether the aspirant is fit for the job based on his or her election pledges.
The people can then cast their votes through the internet or smartphone apps for their favorite candidates, and anyone who is able to get 37,790 votes (i.e., 1 percent of the total number of eligible voters in the city) or more will be declared candidate.
As such, the pro-democracy members of the Election Committee will be under a moral obligation to endorse this candidate because he or she has the people’s mandate.
There is a catch, however. Since the scheme requires CE hopefuls to submit their election platforms first in order to join the civil nomination process, that might create a problem for the pan-democrats who support Tsang, because Tsang, or perhaps all pro-establishment candidates, are unlikely to take the initiative and join the scheme themselves.
In order to allow Tsang to join the civil nomination scheme and boost his legitimacy, so that the pan-democrats can justify endorsing him, perhaps the pro-democracy camp should coordinate with Benny Tai’s team to find out if they can allow Tsang to be put on the list of candidates without him having to apply to join the scheme himself.
If Tsang can get more than 37,790 votes, which I believe is highly possible, then he will become a legitimate candidate with the people’s mandate, thereby providing substantial moral justification for the pan-democrats to endorse him.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 8
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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