Two sides of the coin

Two sides of the coin

By Matthiew Murchie, St Joseph's College

Good things come in small packages ... or do they? The recent constitutional reform package proposed by the government has, not surprisingly, been controversial.

While it cannot be denied that the government has made some attempts to improve the current political system, not nearly enough attention is being paid to areas that really make a difference. Take functional constituencies, for example.

Functional constituencies give a disproportionately large voting power to certain groups of people. Abolishing them is imperative in the interests of true democracy, but the government stubbornly refuses to take them out of the picture.

Universal suffrage is another pressing issue that the reformation package has failed to tackle head on.

Universal suffrage gives citizens equal right to vote for the head of state.

It is clearly stated in Article 45 of the Basic Law that Hong Kong's ultimate goal is to have universal suffrage, so why is it that more than 10 years since the handover, we still are not even close?

The reform package does not even assure us of the right to vote for our own chief executive in 2017. It merely states that the elections "may" be carried out by universal suffrage.

In other words, the reform package does not provide a clear roadmap to democracy and universal suffrage.

It is understandable that some people are frustrated. But we also have to understand that universal suffrage cannot be achieved overnight, and that democracy is not necessarily the answer to all our problems.

Apart from countries where democracy looks to be a failure, such as Thailand and Zimbabwe, even the United States - a nation commonly cited as one of the most liberal and democratic in the world - doesn't have a perfect voting system. The use of electoral colleges means that it is possible for candidates with fewer votes than their opponents to be voted into power, as was the case for George W. Bush.

The fact is, designing and implementing a fair system of voting requires time and planning. But perhaps the most important reason we still don't have universal suffrage is because Beijing is not ready for it.

The constitutional reform package offers us the only way forward, which is why we should act now, and support the passing of the package wholeheartedly.



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