27 October 2016
Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa said those who are against the Communist Party are not qualified to run for the city's top job. Photo: HKEJ
Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa said those who are against the Communist Party are not qualified to run for the city's top job. Photo: HKEJ

Govt campaign for political reform package heats up

The administration of Leung Chun-ying is stepping up efforts to promote its political reform package to the Hong Kong people as pan-democrat lawmakers continue to vow that it will only get the approval of the Legislative Council over their dead bodies.

The government’s intention, of course, is to gather enough support at the grassroots level to convince some of the pan-democrats to change their stance. After all, it only needs four votes from the opposition to ensure victory.

And there is probably no better indication that things are heating up than the return of the pro-Beijing Alliance for Peace and Democracy to the scene.

The group, which gained fame (or notoriety, depending on which side you’re on) through its high-profile campaign against the Occupy Central movement last year, will launch a new signature drive to put more pressure on the pan-democrats.

It will set up hundreds of booths across the territory to collect signatures from the public to urge lawmakers to pass the Beijing-dictated political reform plan.

Indeed, the pro-establishment camp will be quite busy in the next few weeks trying to convince the people to accept the proposal.

A carnival atmosphere will again descend on various places in the territory with district councilors and local leaders presenting food and other goodies for the elderly and young people to attend their meetings, in which they will tell the people that the electoral reform plan is better than reverting to the old system of choosing our next leader through a 1,200-member election committee.

They will say that this is the best chance we have in attaining universal suffrage as every qualified voter will be able to cast a ballot.

But no matter if they cry their voices hoarse, they cannot deny the fact that the package deprives the people of the right to nominate their preferred candidates, and only gives them the chance to choose between two or three Beijing loyalists in the election of the city’s top job.

That’s not universal suffrage, according to those who are fighting for civic nomination without any political intervention.

Still, the pro-Beijing alliance is confident that they will be able to gather 1.5 million signatures just as they did last year.

Yet that number falls way short of two-thirds of the Hong Kong people. A Beijing source told local media that the central government would like to gain 70 percent public support for the reform.

This is mission impossible for the pro-Beijing camp. Surveys show that Hong Kong people are divided between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps at a 55-45 percent ratio.

What the 55 percent want is to uphold Hong Kong’s core values as a unique city of China with an independent legal system as well as a transparent and democratic government. They want to live under a policy that focuses on “two systems” rather than having a “one country” framework that allows intervention in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.

That’s the root of the mistrust between Hong Kong people and central authorities. China has been gradually erasing Hong Kong’s competitive advantages and turning it a common Chinese city with its leaders beholden to Beijing.

And the central government wants this state of affairs to continue. The political reform package will see to it that only Beijing loyalists are elected as chief executive.

While the Hong Kong government insists that pan-democrats still have a chance to qualify as candidates under the reform plan for the 2017 election, former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa himself said on Tuesday that those who hold an anti-Communist Party stance are not qualified to run for the city’s top job.

However, Tung believes that pan-democrats stand a chance to become candidates, and it just depends on their choice of whether to support the government’s political reform proposal.

He also pointed out that Civic Party’s Alan Leong and Audrey Eu should know well enough whether they can become chief executive candidates.

Thanks to the former chief executive, we heard the truth about the Beijing-backed political reform package. 

Hong Kong people, or at least nearly 40 percent of them, feel uncomfortable about the government’s “pocket it first” argument, that we should accept the reform plan in the hope that Beijing will grant more concessions in future elections.

But why must a politician love the Communist Party and its rule in Hong Kong? We should not forget that a significant portion of the Hong Kong population came from the mainland in the ’50s to ’70s to escape the Communist Party rule at the time. Are they anti-Communist now?

Hong Kong people just want a fair and transparent election system. But the way the pro-Beijing camp is conducting its campaign, the debate about political reform is dividing Hong Kong society. 

Hong Kong people simply want to live in peace, unbothered by Beijing’s political agenda. They don’t want politics to get into their daily lives. That’s not what Hong Kong people want to see.

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EJ Insight writer

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