Motion Concerning the Amendment to the Method for the Selection of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2015.06.18)

MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): President, despite the very slim chance for the motion on constitutional reform to pass, I am sure that the passage of the package today is in the best interest of Hong Kong. Apart from making it clear why I support it, I would use this opportunity to make a last-ditch attempt to persuade pan-democrat Members, who have merely been standing firm and bundled up with each other over the past few months with no intent of making any change.

The current package may not be ideal, but there is a reason, that is, there is not much mutual trust between the Central Authorities and Hong Kong for the time being, and the Central Authorities have to play safe and grope its way across the river when it comes to major decisions that matter to Hong Kong and the Central Authorities. Frankly speaking, many of the Hong Kong people have yet to accept the reality of Hong Kong’s reunification, thinking that Hong Kong may do anything it likes and take a hard line; yet, Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China after all. If the Central Authorities do not fully trust Hong Kong, how can Hong Kong enjoy full freedom?

Therefore, amid the tense relationship between the Mainland and Hong Kong nowadays and given the importance of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive election, how is it possible to make a giant step in this exercise to come up with an ideal package desired by the pan-democrats in one go? Moreover, looking around the world, problems like economic recession, disparity between the rich and the poor, high unemployment rates among the youths as well as bureaucracy and corruption may still exist in places where universal suffrage is practised. They may have even more problems than Hong Kong, where universal suffrage has yet to be implemented. Universal suffrage is not a panacea for imminent problems, so carrying out the constitutional reform in phases, coupled with subsequent refinements, is indeed one of the ways leading to universal suffrage.

As a matter of fact, the Central Authorities have stood firm, but they have time and again expressed goodwill in identifying a solution to the problem. For example, to prove that the accusation of “pocketing it forever” is wrong, WANG Guangya, Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, has recently made it clear that the idea of “pocketing it forever” is both distortional and misleading, and stressed that the Central Government has never said so; and he has also pointed out that revision may be made to Hong Kong’s Chief Executive election in the light of Hong Kong’s actual situation.

Director WANG Guangya has expressed goodwill through his remarks with a view to removing the pan-democrats’ biggest psychological hurdle all along. It should be the best chance for pan-democrats to back down in good grace, because early opinion polls unequivocally showed that the popularity of the package among the public might rise to 60% or so if the Central Authorities should made it clear that revision would be possible. But regrettably, the pan-democrats have not only failed to grasp the opportunity for refinement but also proceeded to make vehement accusations. This proves once again their attempt to wipe out any measure of vitality for the constitutional reform and seek excuses for them to put up continued confrontation.

There is a suggestion that given the unfavourable political atmosphere of Hong Kong that is inappropriate for the promotion of constitutional reform, efforts should instead be made to strengthen communication with the Central Authorities, and the discussion on constitutional reform will then become much smoother after mutual trust has been established. Such a view is both specious and deceiving. In fact, passing the constitutional reform package is the best way to build up mutual trust, and further discussions on refinement will then be more effectively carried out. If the package in question is vetoed, the relationship will then be broken. This will only aggravate the distrust between the Central Authorities and Hong Kong, posing more difficulties to the building up of positive mutual trust.

It is impossible for the pan-democrats and their supporters to not know such reasoning. Regrettably, none of the pan-democrats has the courage and boldness to make correct decisions. Instead, they merely choose the easy path of opposition. Moderate pan-democrat Members have been rather at a loss in the Occupy Central incident, being led by the nose by the radicals. And now, they are even bundled up by the radicals to vote against the constitutional reform package, a move which will benefit only those radicals. Moderate pan-democrat Members may be free of attack for a moment, but they have taken the way down a dead alley, where the room of survival is diminishing. They will surely regret it in the future.

I surmise that some pan-democrat Members, knowing full well that given the current situation and timing, passing the package is most beneficial to the community, wish to vote for it from the bottom of their heart. Nevertheless, under the radicals’ intimidation and the repeated calls for bundling, no one may dare come forth to make their support known eventually. Some groups have openly said that they will chase after and attack those pan-democrat Members who vote for it. Being intimidated, how are the pan-democrat Members going to cast a vote out of conscience? To the pan-democrat Members, voting against it may be the easiest way out, as they will be able to demonstrate how defiant and unyielding they are towards the Central Authorities’ Decision as well as fending off the radicals’ attacks. They may even think that they will not lose their votes. However, such an easy decision will stifle the democratization of Hong Kong, and the constitutional development will then only be caught in a standstill.

In any given negotiation, no outcome is the worst case where nothing is achieved at the end of the day other than an aggravation of the relationship of the two parties. Hence, if anyone holds that a better constitutional reform package will come out in the future after the current one is vetoed, it would merely be wishful thinking, and Hong Kong will have waited a decade for no good cause. How many decades does Hong Kong have? The pledge of “no change for 50 years” will expire in 2047, which is just three decades away from 2017; and if we wait another decade meaninglessly, only two decades will be left then. Do Hong Kong people have any more bargaining power by that time?

The pan-democrats are mostly to blame for the situation today. They claim that their supporters are resolute in their call for genuine universal suffrage, so they spare no effort in opposing the constitutional reform package without giving any thought to how best to find a way out. In fact, if the pan-democrats are happy to discuss ways to refine the package and lead their supporters in pursuit of a solution, their supporters will find it very easy to understand that taking a step forward is definitely better than waiting a decade meaninglessly. Therefore, that the pan-democrats cannot make a volte-face is a result of their own making. It is them who are reluctant to figure out a solution and determined to sabotage the constitutional reform, whereas the Central Authorities’ goodwill is met with their scolding, thus resulting in the irreversible situation today. If Hong Kong people have to wait a decade meaninglessly, Members who vote against the package will have to bear full responsibility for it.

I so submit.

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