Democ­racy goes astray when the law is bro­ken

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - CHAN YUNG The au­thor is vice-chair­man of the Demo­cratic Al­liance for the Bet­ter­ment and Progress of Hong Kong.

The so-called ideal demo­cratic sys­tem some peo­ple are now ad­vo­cat­ing, such as “civil nom­i­na­tion” and sim­i­lar pro­pos­als do not con­form to the Ba­sic Law. They de­part from Hong Kong’s real cir­cum­stances and could be very de­struc­tive if forcibly im­ple­mented. Those be­hind the “Oc­cupy Cen­tral” cam­paign of­ten scare peo­ple by claim­ing Hong Kong will not be demo­cratic in fu­ture if we don’t fight for it to­day. Such tac­tics are con­trary to the spirit of most Hong Kong peo­ple.

Hong Kong’s demo­cratic de­vel­op­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion of uni­ver­sal suf­frage must be car­ried out un­der the frame­work of rule of law, namely, the Ba­sic Law and rel­e­vant de­ci­sions by the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee (NPCSC). Only through ra­tional dis­cus­sion can we reach a for­mat which con­forms to this and achieves the ul­ti­mate goal of elect­ing the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive by uni­ver­sal suf­frage.

While some de­bate the method for se­lect­ing the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive by uni­ver­sal in 2017, I have heard many lo­cal peo­ple say they want to have CE elec­tions by uni­ver­sal suf­frage ac­cord­ing to the Ba­sic Law as soon as pos­si­ble. To do so, the for­mat for nom­i­nat­ing CE elec­tion can­di­dates must fol­low the Ba­sic Law and pub­lic dis­cus­sions must con­form to the rule of law. Oth­er­wise, it will be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, to reach a con­sen­sus and progress to­ward uni­ver­sal suf­frage.

Many Hong Kong res­i­dents also be­lieve it is point­less to pro­mote CE elec­tion nom­i­na­tion

The‘

rule of law is the cor­ner­stone of democ­racy. With­out it, democ­racy can­not work ef­fec­tively or last long.”

for­mats which do not con­form to the Ba­sic Law, or to ex­press views by il­le­gal means such as the “Oc­cupy Cen­tral” move­ment. Such ac­tions make it im­pos­si­ble to build a con­sen­sus and may ac­tu­ally de­lay demo­cratic de­vel­op­ment. Pop­u­lar wis­dom like this de­serves the at­ten­tion of all par­ties con­cerned about Hong Kong’s con­sti­tu­tional de­vel­op­ment.

The Ba­sic Law and de­ci­sions of the NPCSC have es­tab­lished rules on the 2017 CE Elec­tion by uni­ver­sal suf­frage. This in­cludes “nom­i­na­tion by a broadly rep­re­sen­ta­tive nom­i­nat­ing com­mit­tee in ac­cor­dance with demo­cratic pro­ce­dures”. The NPCSC also de­cided in 2007 that for­ma­tion of the nom­i­nat­ing com­mit­tee can be based on the ex­ist­ing CE Elec­tion Com­mit­tee. Lo­cal res­i­dents de­scribe th­ese two rules as “four main sec­tors” and as “in­sti­tu­tional nom­i­na­tion”.

A CE elec­tion by uni­ver­sal suf­frage can only be im­ple­mented af­ter two-thirds of leg­isla­tive coun­cil­lors vote for it, and the CE and cen­tral gov­ern­ment give their con­sent. There­fore, I be­lieve the “four main sec­tors” and “in­sti­tu­tional nom­i­na­tion” are more fea­si­ble than any other for­mats. They best re­flect bal­anced par­tic­i­pa­tion and broad rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Some peo­ple have pro­posed dif­fer­ent nom­i­na­tion for­mats and are con­fi­dent theirs com­ply with the Ba­sic Law. But I be­lieve not ev­ery­one is qual­i­fied to in­ter­pret the Ba­sic Law. It is bet­ter for ev­ery­one to stick to the Ba­sic Law and rel­e­vant de­ci­sions of the NPCSC in­stead of dis­cussing their own ideas with­out agree­ment. This will en­sure a con­sen­sus can be reached on the 2017 CE Elec­tion by uni­ver­sal suf­frage.

Some in­di­vid­u­als ad­vo­cat­ing the il­le­gal “Oc­cupy Cen­tral” cam­paign have gone so far as to call for a “rev­o­lu­tion”. This is an at­tempt to cause chaos and black­mail the cen­tral gov­ern­ment into ac­cept­ing their po­lit­i­cal de­mands. Many lo­cal peo­ple are deeply wor­ried about such be­hav­ior. They fear it will un­der­mine the rule of law, which has been in­stru­men­tal in main­tain­ing Hong Kong’s pros­per­ity and sta­bil­ity. I could not agree more.

The rule of law is the cor­ner­stone of democ­racy. With­out it, democ­racy can­not work ef­fec­tively or last long. Some peo­ple de­mand an ideal form of democ­racy but do not re­spect the rule of law. They have been urg­ing the pub­lic to fight, by break­ing the rule of law and even launch­ing a rev­o­lu­tion if nec­es­sary, to sat­isfy their own po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions. The great ma­jor­ity of Hong Kong res­i­dents should think very care­fully about the con­se­quences of such self-serv­ing ac­tions.

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