07/12/2007, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA

No to universal suffrage before 2012, or later

Government proposals for the introduction of universal suffrage and the new electoral law have been deposited. But pro democracy parliamentarians are protesting that it has many grey areas which may privilege Beijing. Now the people have three months to decide.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen has unveiled the “green card”, a document outlining the possible options to bringing universal suffrage for the election of the Chief executive of the Legislative Council (Legco) to Hong Kong. Now the people have three months to indicate their preference between the different proposals, but pro democracy groups are already up in arms, saying that the proposals are unacceptable.

Universal has been indefinitely put off: to 2012 when a committee will be established to study how it may be done, pushing it back to 2017 or even later.  Moreover it remains unclear how the candidates for the post of Chief executive.  Art. 45 of the Basic-Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution, provides for a popular vote on the nominated candidates with “democratic procedures”.  Because the document does not define these “democratic procedures”, fears are high that Beijing will impose a mechanism to admit its “preferred” candidates.

Currently the Chief executive is chosen by an electoral committee of 800 members controlled by Beijing and by 60 Legco seats, while the other half is chosen by special interest groups under China’s control.

Tang says that it would be better to “retain functional constituency seats [of special interest groups], but change the electoral method". A comment which pro democracy groups have defined as “shocking” and a “truly great error”.

The prop democracy lobby protest that Basic Law provides for universal suffrage and the election of the Chief Executive and Parliament. They also observe that the document offers over 486 different combinations of the future electoral law, which parliamentarian Lee Cheuk-yan retains makes it “impossible to reach consensus”.

According to Audrey Eu Yuet-mee the Civic Party leader in this confusing situation “the results of the consultation can be easily manipulated by the government”.   Emily Lau Wai-hing of The Frontier observes that “the green paper provides for the possibility of suffrage in 2012.  We will mobilize the entire community in order to achieve it”.

Analysts note that the proposals appear to correspond to the indications made by President Hu Jintao, that the Hong Kong’s political evolution must be “gradual and ordered”, respecting the superior sovereignty of Beijing.  

 

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