Flawed pro­posal

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - YE­UNG CHI- KE­UNG The au­thor is chair­man of the Hong Kong In­dus­try Com­merce and Pro­fes­sion­als As­so­ci­a­tion.

Dis­cussing “civil nom­i­na­tion” was a waste of time be­cause it is out­side the frame­work in the Ba­sic Law.

Elsie Le­ung, vice-chair­woman of the Hong Kong SAR Ba­sic Law Com­mit­tee (BLC) of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee (NPCSC), said re­cently that dis­cussing “civil nom­i­na­tion” was a waste of time be­cause it is out­side the statu­tory frame­work es­tab­lished in the Ba­sic Law. This is an im­por­tant point. Di­rec­tor of the Cen­tral Peo­ple’s Gov­ern­ment Li­ai­son Of­fice in the HKSAR Zhang Xiaom­ing em­pha­sized at a lun­cheon with mem­bers of the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil (LegCo) on July 16: “The Ba­sic Law and rel­e­vant de­ci­sions of the NPCSC have laid down the whole track for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of uni­ver­sal suf­frage in Hong Kong from start to fin­ish.

“In or­der to reach the fin­ish line sooner rather than later Hong Kong must ad­vance along the track laid down by the Ba­sic Law and rel­e­vant de­ci­sions of the NPCSC, in­stead of go­ing astray.”

The fatal flaw of “civil nom­i­na­tion” is that it is com­pletely off the track es­tab­lished in the Ba­sic Law and rel­e­vant de­ci­sions by the NPCSC. Hong Kong peo­ple must un­der­stand that dis­cussing “civil nom­i­na­tion” is point­less. Fail­ure to reach this con­sen­sus will de­prive Hong Kong of a “straight line” to­ward uni­ver­sal suf­frage.

Le­ung, in ad­di­tion to point­ing out the un­con­sti­tu­tional na­ture of “civil nom­i­na­tion”, also cited the chaotic re­lo­ca­tion of Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port from Kai Tak to Chek Lap Kok in 1998 as an ex­am­ple. She used this to il­lus­trate why Hong Kong should im­ple­ment uni­ver­sal suf­frage in a steady, or­derly fash­ion and why dras­tic changes tend to be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

Tam Wai-chu, a mem­ber of the BLC and also a mem­ber of the Ba­sic Law Draft­ing Com­mit­tee back in the 1980s-90s, re­called at a re­cent fo­rum on con­sti­tu­tional re­form that no one men­tioned

Civil nom­i­na­tion’ is an ex­am­ple of the op­po­si­tion camp tak­ing uni­ver­sal suf­frage off the right track and putting it on the wrong one. The real in­ten­tion is to re­place the Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mit­tee or to make it pow­er­less.”

“civil nom­i­na­tion” when the com­mit­tee dis­cussed uni­ver­sal suf­frage dur­ing the draft­ing of the Ba­sic Law.

Al­though some peo­ple sug­gested nom­i­na­tion by the LegCo or its mem­bers, the idea was not adopted be­cause it goes against the ex­ec­u­tive-led prin­ci­ple.

Chief Sec­re­tary Car­rie Lam, who heads the con­sti­tu­tional re­form con­sul­ta­tion task force of the SAR gov­ern­ment, has told op­po­si­tion LegCo mem­bers that con­sti­tu­tional re­form must pro­ceed un­der the es­tab­lished frame­work. She added that any­thing, in­clud­ing “civil nom­i­na­tion”, which weak­ens or by­passes the Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mit­tee is likely to vi­o­late the Ba­sic Law.

Cur­rent dis­putes over con­sti­tu­tional re­form in Hong Kong boil down to whether dis­cus­sions about uni­ver­sal suf­frage should fol­low rel­e­vant laws or not. “Civil nom­i­na­tion” is an ex­am­ple of the op­po­si­tion camp tak­ing uni­ver­sal suf­frage off the right track and putting it on the wrong one. The real in­ten­tion is to re­place the Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mit­tee or to make it pow­er­less.

The Ba­sic Law stip­u­lates clearly that CE elec­tion can­di­dates shall be se­lected by a Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mit­tee, with­out any al­ter­na­tive method. By in­sist­ing on “civil nom­i­na­tion”, the op­po­si­tion par­ties are vi­o­lat­ing the Ba­sic Law and rel­e­vant de­ci­sions by the NPCSC. Other ideas and ar­gu­ments which stray from the frame­work of the Ba­sic Law will only de­rail the “train” to­ward uni­ver­sal suf­frage.

The late para­mount leader, Deng Xiaop­ing, said when the Ba­sic Law was be­ing drafted that those who run the gov­ern­ment of Hong Kong should love the moth­er­land as well as Hong Kong. But uni­ver­sal suf­frage can­not guar­an­tee ev­ery elec­tion win­ner fits the bill. His wise com­ments in­spired the draft­ing com­mit­tee to pro­duce the Ba­sic Law we have to­day. It re­quires a broadly rep­re­sen­ta­tive Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mit­tee to se­lect CE can­di­dates ac­cord­ing to demo­cratic pro­ce­dures. This is the only way to en­sure no one who is against the cen­tral gov­ern­ment will get to en­ter the CE elec­tion by uni­ver­sal suf­frage.

The op­po­si­tion groups have come up with a num­ber of nom­i­na­tion for­mats based on “civil nom­i­na­tion”. Of th­ese, Schol­ar­ism is the most ex­treme. It pro­poses mak­ing all le­git­i­mate vot­ers in Hong Kong, to­tal­ing some 3.5 mil­lion peo­ple, mem­bers of the Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mit­tee. Peo­ple Power, mean­while, not only pro­posed a wildly ridicu­lous nom­i­na­tion for­mat, but also dis­missed a pro­posal by the Demo­cratic Party as “half-hearted”. Ob­vi­ously, those rad­i­cal op­po­si­tion groups are try­ing to in­tim­i­date oth­ers to fol­low their de­mands. All those ar­gu­ments are at­tempts to side­step the Ba­sic Law and get their own anti-cen­tral gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives into the CE elec­tion. The pub­lic should re­al­ize that “civil nom­i­na­tion” is not in their best in­ter­ests. So dis­cussing it dur­ing con­sti­tu­tional re­form con­sul­ta­tion re­ally is a waste of time.

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