Government and Policy

HK SAR accepts new voting system

By Joseph Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-06-22 07:31
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Hong Kong - The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government has accepted the Democratic Party's proposal to choose the five new Legislative Council functional constituency seats in 2012 by one-man-two-votes.

HK SAR accepts new voting system
Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang speaks to the press in Hong Kong on Monday, June 21, 2010. The special administrative region announced a revised political reform plan in a last-ditch eff ort to break a deadlock between the government and democracy campaigners fi ghting for universal suff rage. [China Daily]

As planned, the government will move the motions on the election methods of the chief executive and the legislative on Wednesday. If the motions are carried, the legislative process of local laws governing the elections will begin in October.

The government accepted the proposal after securing the Democratic Party's guarantee that all their nine votes will support the government package. The party held an extraordinary general meeting on Monday night to decide if the caucus should support the electoral reform.

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The central government's Liaison Office in Hong Kong said the one-man-two-votes system increases the democratic element of the 2012 reform package. Given the implementation can be dealt with by local legislation, it does not infringe on the decision by the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) and the Liaison Office is happy to see the passage of the reform package.

In Beijing, Rita Fan, a NPCSC member, said the consensus is the hard work of tripartite talks between the central government, Hong Kong SAR Government and the Democratic Party. She also said the negotiation made her feel that it is easier to reach consensus through frank discussions.

In the opinion of city university political scientist James Sung, the central government feared that the rejection of the Democratic Party's proposal would give rise to radical democratic force.

If the electoral reform is vetoed again, the society will further exhaust itself and the SAR Government will face a crisis. As for the internal rift in the Democratic Party, he believed the wound could heal and party will not break up.

After a special executive council meeting, Chief Executive Donald Tsang on Monday announced that the government has accepted the Democratic Party's proposal. "This once again demonstrated our resolve and commitment to promoting democratic development in Hong Kong," he said.

The proposal complies with the Basic Law and the NPCSC decision of December 2007. It will also help forge community consensus towards universal suffrage, Tsang said.

The government's original electoral reform package was only a few votes short of the requisite two-thirds (40 votes) to get adopted, he said. But the government has not given up and continues to communicate with various political parties and to secure people's support through various channels.

"I am very happy that we have made a major breakthrough," Tsang said.

When asked why the central government accepts a proposal it once rejected, he said the DP initially insisted that all three of its demands be met. It later focused on the latest proposal by setting aside other issues, while continuing to pursue dual universal suffrage and the abolition of the functional constituency.

As to the nomination threshold, he said it would not be higher than 20 so that the election will be fair, competitive and all political parties can participate.

Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung said the NPCSC decisions stated that the ratio of geographical and functional constituency LegCo members in 2012 will remain 50-50.

Talking about the revised package, a candidate must be an elected district council member and he/she can only run in the election after securing nominations by district council elected members.

In addition, candidates will be elected by those who have no voting right in other functional constituencies by one-man-one-vote.

"The new district council functional constituency election is not a direct election," said Wong.

"The candidates are limited to elected district council members nominated by elected district council members. It is also because not all the 3.43 million registered voters in the geographical constituency electorate are entitled to vote, meaning that the electorate is about 3.2 million after excluding the 230,000 functional constituency electorate," he explained.

The existing functional constituency seat for the district council constituency will continue to be returned among the elected members of district councils.