Reform fail tied to talks snub

Local | Phoenix Un 10 Jan 2019

The government has accused some legislators of an unwillingness to even have casual conversations with mainland officials, thereby causing the failure to reach a consensus on political reforms.

The claim was made at yesterday's Legislative Council meeting after James To Kun-sun of the Democratic Party demanded the government restart the political reform process.

He criticized the government for failing to comply with Basic Law Articles 45 and 68, which states the ultimate goal is to select the chief executive and lawmakers through universal suffrage.

"All past chief executives except for Tung Chee-hwa tried political reforms, and although some succeeded and some failed, they did try their best although all were controversial," To said.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said the most crucial step was to reach a consensus among three parties - Beijing, the chief executive and Legco - for significant communication to take place.

"But certain legislators are concerned about communications or even casual conversations with mainland officials so it is difficult to pursue controversial goals such as political reforms," Nip said.

He said the 2015 reform package failed to get support from two thirds of the legislators, and it would be irresponsible of the government to relaunch it without any chance of success.

Legco vetoed the reform package on June 18, 2015, with only eight votes in support while 28 were against, with the pan-democrats slamming the requirement for a nomination committee for chief executive candidates as a process of screening out any participants that Beijing disliked.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu asked if the "August 31 framework" by the National People's Congress standing committee in 2014, which finally led to the Occupy movement later that year, would still be the prerequisite for future political reforms.

Nip said that the framework was, of necessity, the starting point for any reform package, as Beijing drafted it according to the law.

The framework stated that the nomination committee should continue to function, and ruled out civil nominations.

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