Official says political reform process can only restart once society reaches consensus

Local | 9 Jan 2019 1:37 pm

Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Secretary Patrick Nip Tak-kuen says the government can only restart the political reform process once society reaches a consensus on the framework Beijing set out for universal suffrage in Hong Kong in August 2014, RTHK reported.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress had spelt out a number of requirements for how the 2017 Chief Executive election could take place via "one man, one vote".

But its stipulations would have enabled Beijing to screen out any candidates it didn't like and the announcement of the restrictions led to the 79-day Occupy movement. The following year, the Legislative Council rejected an electoral reform bill based on the framework.

On Wednesday, Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun asked in Legco whether the government would consider re-launching the whole process, starting off with a public consultation exercise, so the next chief executive can be elected by universal suffrage in 2022.

But Nip said rashly restarting the political reform process would only divide society, and the government has been working hard to build a consensus.

He said Beijing's framework was "legally sound" and it is important to have a common legal basis before discussions restart.

"If we are to restart constitutional reform, or further promote its development, this is a starting point. If we cannot even reach a consensus on this fundamental legal basis, I don't see how we are in a position to further our reform proposal," Nip said.

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