Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The proposed electoral reform mainland China would like to impose on Hong Kong "will not pass,” said Jackie Hung, a member of the Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace. “Our Constitution says that we have rights, but we still have not enjoyed them. It is time to show our determination and show that the people want real democracy,” she told AsiaNews.
The Commission has been a leading advocate for full democracy in Hong Kong by 2017. However, China’s central government wants see the pro-Beijing Election Committee pick the two or three candidates, with voters allowed to choose among them.
After China issued its proposal, tens of thousands of people joined ‘Occupy Central with Peace and Love,’ a movement that had been in a peaceful standoff with the government over genuine democratic reform.
At present, the situation is at an impasse. China’s reforms need the support of some pro-democracy lawmakers to pass. If the latter are rejected it is unclear what will happen. What is certain is that in case of failure, the next chief executive will be selected in 2017 the existing Election Committee under current rules.
Hong Kong’s LegCo is expected to start discussions over the reform package this Wednesday. The debate should last until next day, when lawmakers should vote.
In order to raise awareness about the pro-democracy cause, “together with civil society groups, we decided to start a peaceful protest tonight in front of the Council. We want to make it clear that we will continue to fight for genuine democracy, as provided by our Constitution."
For Ms Hung, “Mainland China is not likely to make any changes or concessions. In fact, we are facing a test to measure our determination. We are in people’s hands, and we need their support.”
“If the Occupy movement suffered setbacks in terms of popular support, it is because some people tried to distort its peaceful nature. Police and pro-Beijing politicians took advantage of this to give a distorted image of our commitment." This time, this "will not happen again,” Hung explained. “We shall not be caught unprepared or fall into the same trap again."
Yesterday, thousands of people demonstrated peacefully in the streets of the autonomous region, urging the government to listen to the voice of democracy. Other rallies and protest meetings are scheduled throughout the week.
However, the people of Hong Kong are split over reforms. Yesterday, a public debate was held at Hong Kong University between three pro-democracy lawmakers and three Beijing loyalists.
Among those attending the event, 49 per cent of those who went it indicated that they were against the reforms and 42 per cent said that they were in favour.
On their way out after the forum, the number of those who opposed the reform package rose to 54 per cent whilst that of supporters dropped to 38 per cent.
Commenting on this, pro-democracy lawmakers Charles Mok said the swing showed that "debates have made the truth clearer,” and people respond.