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Thursday, August 7, 2014, 08:56

Take what is offered for greater good, opposition told

By Joseph Li in Hong Kong

Take what is offered for greater good, opposition told

Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, urged the opposition to accept gradual progress on political reform and put the interests of Hong Kong people before their own.

Lau told China Daily in an exclusive interview he didn’t believe the 2017 Chief Executive (CE) electoral model would be final. This is despite the fact the opposition has painted a gloomy picture by repeatedly saying the 2017 format would remain unchanged “for 1,000 years”.

"As I have said before, the central government has vowed to review the CE election procedures constantly and incorporate more democratic elements,” he commented. “From the perspective of gradual and orderly progress, the democratic system will continue to evolve, and no electoral methods can remain unchanged forever."

He added: "I understand the central government also wants to spread the message to commence universal suffrage in 2017 whereas the electoral system may be improved in future. These days, this is commonly referred to by politicians as 'eat this for the time being' or 'take things on the table'."

The NPCSC will examine Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s report on the 2016 and 2017 electoral arrangements later this month. Lau is adamant that the top legislature will rule out “public nomination” as a legitimate means for returning candidates for the CE election.

The NPCSC will, however, leave it to the Hong Kong government to expand the Nominating Committee and make it more representative.

Lau hoped the opposition would look at the bigger picture instead of its own narrow interests. “They may not get the thing (public nomination) they want, but they should accept an electoral model that is not ‘convenient’ to them for the time being so as to kick start universal suffrage.”

"Even if only pro-establishment figures can run in the 2017 CE election by universal suffrage, there will be keen competition as they need to prepare sound policy platforms, have a good team of future secretaries and enlist public support, including support of the opposition members, who will have a lot of influence.”

In the coming months it will be important to see whether the government can harness the power of the “silent majority” in society and if the electoral model can win mainstream support, Lau said.

If the size of the “Occupy Central” campaign turns out to be insignificant, the opposition will be under great pressure.

"If they (opposition) act against public opinion and veto the electoral model, they will risk the 2016 Legislative Council election,” he warned.


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