12th May 2015 SCMP
Jasper Tsang sees enemies of package in Beijing and its camp, as well as among pan-democrats
One of Hong Kong’s top pro-establishment politicians is not sure how keen either Beijing or the pan-democrats are about reaching a compromise to see the government’s final package of electoral-reform proposals passed by the Legislative Council.
Legco President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said there should be no difficulty in endorsing the blueprint for the 2017 chief executive election if both sides were motivated enough, but he had not seen any realistic hope so far.
“I have no way to know if both Beijing and the pan-democrats have the motivation to secure the passage of the proposals,” Tsang said.
His pessimistic view was also reflected in the latest result of the rolling poll jointly conducted by three of the city’s universities to gauge public support for the reform package. It showed that 42.5 per cent of 1,157 respondents polled from May 3 to Thursday supported the proposal, while 39.5 per cent opposed it.
The gap was the narrowest since the survey was started on April 23, despite a government blitz to promote the restrictive framework imposed by Beijing. The pan-democrats have vowed to vote it down this summer, saying it will screen out candidates not favoured by Beijing.
Tsang said yesterday that some people, himself included, would be disappointed if the reform package was blocked, but others would be happy.
“Those people [who would be happy about a rejection] come from Beijing and the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camps,” he said.
The veteran Beijing loyalist recalled a reception in the capital in December 1993 when he met Lu Ping , then director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.
The reception was held a month after Sino-British talks over the 1995 Legco election broke down,
“Lu Ping was in favour of reaching an agreement with Britain. A friend of mine, who was also present, told me some attendants at the reception looked like they had lost their parents, while others were happy, as if they had just got a new daughter-in-law,” Tsang said.
“Lu was among those who looked utterly wretched.”
Under the final blueprint unveiled last month, two or three chief executive candidates will be put forward for the public ballot after they secure majority support from a 1,200-strong nominating committee. The government must win over at least four of the 27 pan-democrats for the package to win the required two-thirds majority in Legco.
Tsang said the public-opinion war being waged by the government was not enough to secure the passage of the proposal, and that further dialogue between Beijing and the pan-democrats was the best solution.
“Pan-democrats are worried that approving the reform package for the 2017 poll would be the endgame in the fight for democracy, and want a pledge from Beijing that there would be room for further improvement after 2017,” he said. “They should raise this if there is a chance for dialogue with Beijing officials.”
He also suggested setting up a committee of officials and representatives of various parties to explore how to improve the post-2017 electoral system.