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The Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA) welcomes the government’s launch today (January 7) of the Second Round of Public Consultation on Constitutional Development. The latest exercise provided ample scope for discussions on the nominating procedures and methods for electing the Chief Executive in 2017 as given in the Basic Law and the relevant Interpretation and Decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC). It was hoped that this process would pave the way for the implementation of a “one person, one vote” approach to selecting the next Chief Executive (CE).
Mr Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, BPA Chairman, pointed out that Beijing was committed unequivocally to the promotion of democracy in Hong Kong and, as such, fully supported the SA’s efforts to achieve universal suffrage. He urged all parties to take advantage of the two month consultation period to submit their views. He added that while the issue was expected to attract different views the right of expression and the opinions of others should be respected. He also stressed the importance of finding common ground to ensure that the political reform process would not come to a standstill as achieving universal suffrage was ultimately in the best interest of Hong Kong as a whole.
Mr Leung noted the urgency with ratifying the political reform package before the end of the current legislative session. Should the reform proposal be vetoed in the Legislative Council, this could give rise to uncertainties which could upset Hong Kong’s economy and people’s livelihood. As a political group representing the business and professionals sectors, the BPA believed that the existing Election Committee, which comprised four sectors of 1,200 members from 38 subsectors, was consistent with the principle of balanced participation. The BPA therefore supported the notion of maintaining the status quo for the Nominating Committee, as well as the method for selecting the Election Committee. This would avoid unnecessary bickering and allow public discussion to focus and reach consensus on the method for selecting the CE in 2017.
Mr Leung acknowledged that unanimity would be difficult to achieve under the current political climate. However, he believed that, “The virtuous combination of Hong Kong people’s prudence, the Central Government’s good faith, the SAR Government’s efforts, and politicians’ devotion means nothing is impossible.”
Mr Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, BPA Vice Chairman, noted that despite the consultation document’s specific proposals on the various nomination stages for selecting the CE by universal suffrage, there was still plenty of scope for discussion. For example, would the threshold of nominations from 100 Nominating Committee members at the ‘members recommendation” stage be appropriate? What would be the suitable process for electing the CE-elect? Should a single round of voting, namely, a “first-past-the-post” system be adopted to elect the CE? He said, “If full attention was given to the discussion on the mechanics of CE selection, two months would be enough to reach a consensus. However, if there were attempts to deviate from the framework of the Basic Law and the NPCSC’s Decisions, even a two-year discussion would not produce anything fruitful.”
Mr Lam said that the government planned to table the political reform package in the Legislative Council either in April or May. The BPA, therefore, urged the community to seize the opportunity by engaging in pragmatic and rational discussion for the sake of introducing political reform in Hong Kong whereby 5 million voters could fulfill their aspiration of selecting the CE by universal suffrage in 2017.