Moderate democrats say they will vote against reform plan

June 01, 2015 19:14
Ronny Tong (right) and Frederick Fung say Beijing officials and pan-democrats should improve their relationship before they meet again. Photo: RTHK

Moderate democrats Ronny Tong and Frederick Fung will not support the government’s election reform proposal.

They made the comment after more than 50 lawmakers, including 14 pan-democrats, went to Shenzhen on Sunday to discuss the proposal with three Beijing officials.

Tong told RTHK on Monday that he would prefer to vote down the election bill rather than go along with the government's "pocket it first" strategy.

The strategy calls for passage of the measure by the Legislative Council, with the possibility of improving on it as it is implemented.  

It was the first categorical statement by Tong, who had been tipped to back the proposal at the last minute.

He said Beijing officials and pan-democrats should improve their relationship before they meet again.

Wang Guangya, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, did not have a clear roadmap for Hong Kong’s democratic development at the meeting, Tong said.

So, it's possible that “pocket it first” will be “pocket it for life”, he said.

Wang merely said the central government will not appoint someone who opposes Beijing, showing that Beijing remains vigilant toward Hong Kong, Tong said.

Fung said Beijing misunderstands Hong Kong democrats, adding it is not useful to continue the debate if Beijing maintains a hard line.

Beijing should accept the lawmakers' decision and not label opponents of the bill as troublemakers, Fung said.

He said rejecting the bill would allow both sides to restart discussions in a calmer atmosphere.

Meanwhile, legislator Kenneth Leung said if he supports “fake universal suffrage”, he will be punished by voters in the 2016 Legco election.

Liberal Party leader James Tien said the Beijing officials’ tough line left no room for democrats to ease their stance.

The chance of Legco passing the proposal is zero, he said.

Executive councilor Regina Ip said if the election reform is vetoed, it will take "a very long of time" to restart discussions.

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EJ Insight intern reporter