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Home > Ambassador Liu > Remarks > 2015
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming's Article in the Daily Telegraph: Let the people of Hong Kong have their say
2015/05/18

On 18 May 2015, the Daily Telegraph published Ambassador Liu Xiaoming's article entitled Let the people of Hong Kong have their say. The full text is as follow:

On April 22nd, the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region released the Method for Selecting the Chief Executive by Universal Suffrage to the LegCo, Hong Kong's law-making body, after the second round of public consultation.

According to this document, a 1,200-strong committee will nominate two to three candidates through a procedure divided into two stages, namely "members recommendation" and "committee nomination". The candidates will then stand for a "one-person-one-vote" election and the winner will be decided by "first-past-the-post". This document will be put to a vote in the LegCo in a little over a month.

The latest poll shows over 70 per cent of the Hong Kong public in support of this plan. But the Basic Law requires the bill to command a two-thirds majority of the 70-member LegCo to become law. Some opposition members who have their own agenda on constitutional reform will try to abuse their power to go against public will, stage one last fight and block the plan. How? By confusing right and wrong with talks of so-called "international standard" and "real or fake universal suffrage", by getting the young people into the street and by sending Hong Kong back into chaos. Hong Kong's political reform is now at a crossroads. There have been all sorts of reports, understandably diverse but sometimes unduly confusing. This made me feel obligated to make the following three points.

First, this plan is not "better than nothing". It is not a "second best". It is the best plan available right now. When it comes to universal suffrage, there is no "international standard". Hong Kong does not need a democratic illusion that looks similar to what others have but does not work in Hong Kong's own political and social setting. The plan that works for Hong Kong must be in line with the Basic Law and the Decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, must reflect the real situation on the ground in Hong Kong, and must incorporate the views of Hong Kong's various social sectors and general public expressed during the consultations. Taking all these into consideration, the current bill is undoubtedly the best plan for selecting a chief executive by universal suffrage and offers an unprecedented and the most democratic arrangement in the history of Hong Kong.

If this plan is adopted, five million Hong Kong voters will, for the very first time, elect a chief executive by "one person, one vote". The threshold for potential candidates will also be greatly lowered. A person seeking nomination will only need to obtain recommendation jointly by 120 Nomination Committee members in their individual capacities. Since each NC member may recommend only one person, the plan suggests that each person should obtain no more than 240 recommendations in order to allow more people to participate in the election.

Second, the selection system is not a "screening system" designed for specific individuals but a democratic system that suits Hong Kong today.

Hong Kong has not had a very long history of democracy. Less than 20 years since the end of British rule have been just about enough time for democratic ideas and environment to start to grow and take shape. The NC system provided for in the Basic Law is a creative system that has given Hong Kong's democracy a good start and has ensured a continuation from the past as well as efficiency in the future. It facilitates both the right to stand for election and the right to vote, and enables voters to make meaningful choices. Those who oppose and challenge the NC system have but their own selfish interests in mind, namely securing nomination for their man. The clear lack of justification for their demand will not win them public support.

Some British friends asked me, why can't the government tone down just a bit and give a straightforward indication that 2017 will not be the finish line for Hong Kong's democracy so as to make it easier for the opposition to accept the current plan?

Here is my straightforward answer, which is also my third point. As the way law-based societies and human civilizations are, no legal system is static and all change as time changes. But before talking about changes in the future as practice and social progress require or further improvement within the framework of the Basic Law, one must first make universal suffrage of the chief executive happen in 2017.

At the same time, my questions to them are these: doesn't Hong Kong in the coming years deserve better than a five-year cycle of political antagonism and a recurrence of the decade of political chaos? Doesn't Hong Kong deserve a stable election system in order to focus on the economy and livelihood? Shouldn't Hong Kong build and improve the mechanisms in support of the universal suffrage, shape a healthy election culture and maximize the social benefit of a good election system?

Anyone who appreciates the above three points without bias will arrive at an impartial conclusion about the Hong Kong chief executive election plan, that this plan will give Hong Kong a real universal suffrage and true democracy.

So, for some people in Hong Kong, it is now a question of "to be or not to be". But I am confident that as long as they have the overall and long-term interests of Hong Kong in mind, as long as they truly want Hong Kong's democracy to make progress, they will come round to a decision that is responsible for Hong Kong and responsible for future generations.

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