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Li rejects key demand from suffrage alliance

Colleen LeeandPhila Siu

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Central government liaison office deputy director Li Gang rejected a key demand of pan-democrats to let people choose lawmakers directly from district councils in 2012.

Li made the comment two hours after discussing the city's political development with seven representatives of the Alliance for Universal Suffrage yesterday.

Both the alliance and the Democratic Party, which also met with Li two days earlier, have suggested that voters who are now not entitled to be functional constituency electors can choose some functional constituency lawmakers from the district councils in 2012. The alliance wants to have 11 such district council Legco members while the Democrats prefer six such seats. The alliance also suggested current district councillors seek at least 10 nominations from their fellow members to qualify as functional constituency candidates.

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But Li said: "According to the original intent of the Basic Law, functional constituency legislators should be selected by a group of voters who belong to specific professions, sectors or organizations. If the voter base is enlarged to the whole society, it will not be in line with the original intent of the Basic Law."

He added this also may raise doubts as to whether it is in line with the decision made by the National People's Congress. The government is proposing that only elected district councillors should be involved in the vote.

But Chan Kin-man, an alliance member and sociology academic, said: "In our proposal, not everyone can become a candidate. District councillors have to get nominations from at least 10 fellow members to vie for functional constituency seats. Under this rule, this will not be a universal suffrage system."

Another alliance member, Confederation of Trade Unions lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, said he would not vote for the political reform package if the coalition's three demands were not met.

They include changing the manner of selecting district council functional constituency lawmakers in 2012, scrapping functional constituencies in 2020 and keeping the nomination threshold of 2017 chief executive election unchanged.

Li called on lawmakers to "take a step backward" for the good of all. But pan-democrat Lee said: "There is no more room for us to further step back, nor are we patient enough to wait further."

Asked if the 14 lawmakers in the alliance will make the same voting decision on the reform package, its deputy convener Tsoi Yiu-cheong said none of the alliance's rules covered the voting decision of the legislators.


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