Restarting the political reform process will be a 'difficult task'

Updated: 2016-12-19 07:28

By Joseph Li in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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 Restarting the political reform process will be a 'difficult task'

Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, incumbent president of the Legislative Council, hopes the executive-legislative relationship will pick up now that the LegCo has resumed normal operations. Photos by Roy Liu / China Daily

Chief Executive aspirants, including retired judge Woo Kwok-hing and New People's Party Chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, and some "pan-democrats" have suggested that the next-term Hong Kong government restart the constitutional reform process.

Last year, a major move aimed at introducing "one man, one vote" in next year's Chief Executive election was voted down by opposition lawmakers.

However, Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen reckons that it is difficult to re-launch the process under the present circumstances because it's not easy to reach a two-thirds consensus to have it passed in the legislature.

Restarting the political reform process will be a 'difficult task'

The opposition camp is also unwilling to abide by the constitutional framework laid out by the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) on Aug 31, 2014. Instead of reigniting the dispute, Leung thinks it would be better for the next government to focus on economic development and people's livelihood rather than political issues.

"Reopening the electoral reform process is a difficult task as the NPCSC's Aug 31 framework is legally binding and is still there. Yet, the 'pan-democrats' have refused to come to terms with it," he said.

"The row over political reform has dragged on for more than two years. In the end, it has come to nothing and torn society apart. In the absence of any consensus, the electoral reform package will surely be vetoed once again and democratic progress will stand still if the new government re-introduces the electoral reform package immediately after it assumes office."

Leung added that in order to take on universal suffrage in Hong Kong, both sides should be prepared to give and take, and embark on negotiations on the same basis. Otherwise, there's no way a consensus can be reached.

"The opposition camp should not take all things on the table at a go without giving. They must recognize that the Aug 31 framework, the principle of gradual and orderly progress and universal suffrage in the CE election come before the LegCo election," Leung stressed.

He said different places have different electoral systems and the opposition should consider the actual situation in Hong Kong and not think practices adopted in other places are always good, or simply copy foreign examples and bring them to Hong Kong.

"(The opposition should know) that not even the US president is returned by universal suffrage. They always acclaim 'international standards' when it comes to electoral reform. They should not handpick practices from overseas that are convenient to them and say it's an international standard that should be adopted in Hong Kong," he added.

(HK Edition 12/19/2016 page5)