Res­tart­ing the po­lit­i­cal re­form process will be a ‘dif­fi­cult task’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - INTERVIEW | HK - By JOSEPH LI in Hong Kong

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive as­pi­rants, in­clud­ing re­tired judge Woo Kwokhing and New Peo­ple’s Party Chair­woman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, and some “pan-democrats” have sug­gested that the next-term Hong Kong gov­ern­ment restart the con­sti­tu­tional re­form process.

Last year, a ma­jor move aimed at in­tro­duc­ing “one man, one vote” in next year’s Chief Ex­ec­u­tive elec­tion was voted down by op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers.

How­ever, Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil Pres­i­dent An­drew Le­ung Kwanyuen reck­ons that it is dif­fi­cult to re­launch the process un­der the present cir­cum­stances be­cause it’s not easy to reach a two-thirds con­sen­sus to have it passed in the leg­is­la­ture.

The op­po­si­tion camp is also un­will­ing to abide by the con­sti­tu­tional frame­work laid out by the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee (NPCSC) on Aug 31, 2014. In­stead of reignit­ing the dis­pute, Le­ung thinks it would be bet­ter for the next gov­ern­ment to fo­cus on eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and peo­ple’s liveli­hood rather than po­lit­i­cal is­sues.

“Reopen­ing the elec­toral re­form process is a dif­fi­cult task as the NPCSC’s Aug 31 frame­work is legally bind­ing and is still there. Yet, the ‘pan-democrats’ have re­fused to come to terms with it,” he said.

“The row over po­lit­i­cal re­form has dragged on for more than two years. In the end, it has come to noth­ing and torn so­ci­ety apart. In the ab­sence of any con­sen­sus, the elec­toral re­form pack­age will surely be ve­toed once again and demo­cratic progress will stand still if the new gov­ern­ment re-in­tro­duces the elec­toral re­form pack­age im­me­di­ately af­ter it as­sumes of­fice.”

Le­ung added that in or­der to take on univer­sal suf­frage in Hong Kong, both sides should be pre­pared to give and take, and em­bark on ne­go­ti­a­tions on the same ba­sis. Oth­er­wise, there’s no way a con­sen- sus can be reached.

“The op­po­si­tion camp should not take all things on the ta­ble at a go with­out giv­ing. They must rec­og­nize that the Aug 31 frame­work, the prin­ci­ple of grad­ual and or­derly progress and univer­sal suf­frage in the CE elec­tion come be­fore the LegCo elec­tion,” Le­ung stressed.

He said dif­fer­ent places have dif­fer­ent elec­toral sys­tems and the op­po­si­tion should con­sider the ac­tual sit­u­a­tion in Hong Kong and not think prac­tices adopted in other places are al­ways good, or sim­ply copy for­eign ex­am­ples and bring them to Hong Kong.

“(The op­po­si­tion should know) that not even the US pres­i­dent is re­turned by univer­sal suf­frage. T he y al­ways ac­claim ‘i nter­na­tional stan­dards’ when it comes to elec­toral re­form. They should not hand­pick prac­tices from over­seas that are con­ve­nient to them and say it’s an in­ter­na­tional stan­dard that should be adopted in Hong Kong,” he added.

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