Donald Tsang in Beijing: universal suffrage for 2012; no, rather 2017
Majority of Hong Kong’s citizens want democracy soon, but according to the territorial government (held back by Beijing) it is better to delay until 2017. Resistance is registered above all among parliamentarians close to China and trade, fearful of the “damage” democracy could provoke.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Majority of Hong Kong’s citizens want democracy soon and universal suffrage by 2012, but the government thinks it’s better to delay to 2017: this is the suggestion that Donald Tsang, chief of the executive offered Beijing in his report on political reform.

According to Hong Kong’s constitution, signed by China and Great Britain, full democracy should have been brought to the territory by 2007.  But Beijing has taken full power for all political reforms in the former British colony.

The report presented to Beijing is the result of a government inquest and public consultation carried out last summer.  It states that that 2017 would stand a better chance than 2012 of attaining the required two-thirds “majority” in the legislature. According to some observers, the contradictory conclusion arises from obstacles being raised to universal suffrage by members of Legco, the legislative council; mainly made up by pro-Beijing and pro-business figures who fear democracy could damage Chine and trade.  It should be noted that only half of the Legco members were directly voted in by the people.

The report asks for changes to electoral methods, but did not map out specific proposals.  The people want direct elections for all parliamentarians and for the chief of the executive.

Of the 18,200 written submissions on the issue received, about 12,600 were standard submissions initiated by pan-democrats demanding universal suffrage to elect both the chief executive and all lawmakers by 2012, and about 2,000 submissions sought universal suffrage for the chief executive elections.

Anson Chan Fang On-sang said she feared she could not witness universal suffrage in her lifetime if Donald Tsang Yam-kuen failed to take the lead in directing the public to reach a consensus on political development. She described a report by Mr Tsang, submitted to Beijing yesterday, as "manipulating people's opinions" and not moving forward.

Rumours circulating in Hong Kong say that the date of 2017, inserted in the report was suggested directly by Beijing.  The report will be presented and evaluated by the National Peoples’ Assembly, the Chinese Parliament, before any decision is made.

 

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