Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

'Occupy Central' poll a folly

By Ho Loksang (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-28 07:16

Basic Law is binding on and benefits all parties in Hong Kong and no 'referendum' can change their rights and responsibilities

News of the number of people who voted in the poll organized by the "Occupy Central" group in Hong Kong quickly reaching over half a million may surprise some observers. But this is entirely understandable in view of the belief, stirred up by the mass and social media, that Hong Kong people's basic rights are under threat and that they need to defend them by voting in the "Occupy Central" poll.

It is unfortunate that many Hong Kong people lack the understanding of the law. If they understood the importance of the Basic Law, they would not have chosen to arbitrarily deviate from it, as those who espouse civil nomination have done. If they understood that the Basic Law is binding on the central government, they would not have believed that rejecting civil nomination was aimed at depriving Hong Kong people of their right to nominate a candidate of choice for election as chief executive.

The Basic Law went through an arduous process of consultation and legislation. It is Hong Kong's most important piece of legislation. This is because it lays the foundation of all the rights and responsibilities of Hong Kong people. At the same time, it spells out the rights and responsibilities of the central government toward Hong Kong.

The Basic Law is binding on all parties. No poll or "referendum" can change the rights and responsibilities of any of the concerned parties. The notion that if a sufficient number of people turn up to express their demands, Beijing will grant Hong Kong people civil nomination is incorrect. Beijing is simply not permitted to deviate from the Basic Law.

It is a mystery how Hong Kong people, who recognize the importance of the rule of law, can be so ignorant about it. Some insist that what is not explicitly precluded by the Basic Law should be allowed. However, when the Basic Law specifically stipulates that the chief executive is to be elected by "universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative Nominating Committee in accordance with democratic procedures", it certainly rules out nomination by any other means. This viewpoint has been confirmed by the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Hong Kong Law Society.

After a white paper was released, the message that the central government is tightening control over Hong Kong was circulated on social media in the Special Administration Region. But the white paper says no such thing. The white paper only explains the source of Hong Kong's autonomy in its historical context.

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