Officials slammed over bus campaign for electoral reform

April 27, 2015 15:00
Pro-democracy activists, some holding up yellow umbrellas, shout at officials aboard the open-top bus promoting the government's political reform package for the 2017 chief executive election. Photo: SocRec

Senior officials promoting the government's political reform package drew a backlash after they opted to stay on an open-top bus in their campaign sorties.

But Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen defended their method of campaigning for the government's "one man, one vote" proposal for the 2017 chief executive election, noting that it was a reasonable choice considering the chaos that attended their initial campaign in Mei Foo last Wednesday, when pro-democracy activists disrupted the program.

In a radio interview on Sunday, Yuen said government officials decided to stay on the bus during their visits to various districts to avoid confrontations with activists who were waiting for them to disrupt their promotional campaigns, which could lead to injuries, Apple Daily reported on Monday.

It was a pity that they could not get off the bus and interact with the crowd, but it was the best they could do in the wake of disruptions by protesters, Yuen said.

Last Wednesday's program in Mei Foo ended in chaos after protesters booed and heckled Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying who showed up at the event, and plastered his departing car with "we want genuine universal suffrage" stickers.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam and Yuen were supposed to be the only senior administration officials scheduled to attend the Mei Foo event.

The so-called Political Reform Trio, accompanied by about 30 officials, launched a 90-minute promotional campaign on Saturday, but this time they did not get off the double-decker bus and simply waved at the crowds below.

Still, protesters gathered around the bus and clashed with the police. Three activists were arrested. 

Yuen said the government will review the campaign and try to come up with more effective ways to communicate with the people and promote the electoral plan. 

The bus had a giant banner that reads "2017: Make It Happen", the government's slogan for its political reform package, in which a 1,200-member nominating committee will pick the candidates for the chief executive race. 

Leung, who was in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, said attacking officials conducting the district visits will only disrupt social order and won't help in achieving universal suffrage for Hong Kong.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said the officials, by opting to stay on the bus during their district visits, showed they were too timid to face the people, adding that they might as well take a helicopter next time.

Joshua Wong Chi-fung, leader of the student group Scholarism, said he was very disappointed that the senior officials did not even bother to set foot on the ground during their promotional campaigns to talk to the people.

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