Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – “Sincerity and respect for the people of Hong Kong are being lost,” Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, told AsiaNews. He was speaking about the government’s decision to adopt a revised constitutional reform package, only two days before it goes to the territory’s Legislative Council (LegCo).
Today the government has rejected calls to postpone the debate to give the public time to discuss the Democratic Party's proposal to allow the people to elect five new District and functional constituency representatives. This effectively gives the government the 40 votes it needs to move the package forward. The LegCo debate on the "Package of proposals for the methods of selecting chief executive and for forming Legislative Council in 2010" will start tomorrow.
Cardinal Zen said discussions with the Chinese government have caused a “rift among pan-democrats in Hong Kong”. Even though the central government's acceptance of the democrats' proposal is “a breakthrough” on political reform issue, which has gone unresolved for years, some politicians can only see the benefits in front of them.
Timing is “a serious problem” and the Democratic Party should not accept the revised proposal for approval tomorrow. “The object of deliberation is something new, with many elements clamouring for clarification,” such as how to abolish functional constituencies in future, the cardinal noted.
For the cardinal, it may be “overly optimistic” to believe that it is “an easy way to a real one-person-two-votes system”.
“The people of Hong Kong have had no chance to express their opinion in this regard,” he added. Therefore, “To push for a quick vote on the proposal is an act of contempt towards the people of Hong Kong”.
Lina Chan Li-na, executive secretary of the diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), told AsiaNews that functional constituencies must be abolished and universal suffrage implemented in the elections for the LegCo and the office of chief executive if Hong Kong is to achieve true democracy.
The JPC and seven other Catholic and Protestant groups held a prayer Tuesday evening, staging the “Stations of the Cross for Democracy” outside the LegCo building, a day before the legislative body beings a debate on the constitutional reform package.