Political reform seems to have little chance

Political reform seems to have little chance


People supporting universal suffrage protest at Chater Road on New Year's day.
People supporting universal suffrage protest at Chater Road on New Year's day.
Photo: Sam Tsang/SCMP

There seems to be little progress in the ongoing consultation for political reforms in Hong Kong. Several bodies submitted proposals for the election of the chief executive, but a number of them - civic nomination, for instance - were dismissed as being too "radical" or "against the law".

In the New Year's Day "referendum" organised by Occupy Central, more than 90 per cent of the 62,000 participants supported civic nomination to select the city's next leader.

However, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the referendum was irrelevant to the reform process.

We have been told repeatedly that reform plans must "abide by the Basic Law" as well as the "two decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress". But their interpretation remains unclear.

Many people have argued that, in its simplest form, a "broadly representative" nominating committee should comprise the entire population of Hong Kong. But Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei has said the nominating committee should be split equally among four sectors - similar to the 1,200-strong election committee that voted in Leung Chun-ying in 2012.

If the final objective of political reform is to have democracy, then all these "barriers" are simply moving us away from it.

Mainland officials say the electoral process should produce candidates who "love China, love Hong Kong". That means "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong", "high level of self-governance" and "no change for 50 years" are merely slogans when it comes to electoral reform.

Members of the pro-establishment camp have even admitted that Beijing should "have a say" in the candidates.

The fate of Hong Kong's political development seems more or less pegged to the development of democracy on the mainland.

When most citizens there are only allowed to "vote" at county and township levels once every five years, how confident can we be that Beijing will really allow Hong Kong to elect its own chief executive?

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