The proposed electoral reform is pushing the boundaries of democracy to the limit in Hong Kong and proving to be a self-inflicted challenge for Chief Executive Donald Tsang.
On Monday, June 7, hundreds of pro-democracy protesters gathered to oppose Tsang’s publicity attempt, as he tried to rally supporters to back his reform package by making appearances in Quarry Bay and Shau Kei Wan.
As Tsang struggled to spread his “Act Now” message – the official motto for the reform campaign – protesters drowned out his speech by chanting “All Wrong” (direct translation: Ultra Mistake) instead.
The changes proposed for the 2012 elections have met with vehement criticism from pan-democratic groups and the public. Almost 10,000 people have joined the popular social network platform Facebook group calling the site “All Wrong”, which ridicules the reforms.
The opposition groups say the reform package is merely an overhaul of the undemocratic proposals put forward in 2005.
The 2005 package was defeated in the legislature after pan-democrats blocked the bill through their majority vote because they dominated more than one third of the seats (23 of 60). In December 2005, more than 250,000 people took to the streets in a massive public protest march.
Tsang claims the latest reforms aim to bring greater democracy to Hong Kong. However, he notably fails to address the crucial issue of universal suffrage, which includes the ability to directly elect the Chief Executive (the equivalent to Prime Minister, under Hong Kong’s system) by the populace.
The latest proposals preserve the elite committee members, who are permitted to choose the Chief Executive. This exclusive group mainly consists of prominent business tycoons and pro-Beijing supporters, and if the suggested changes are accepted, will be increased from 800 “voters” to 1,200.
The Legislative Council (LegCo) – which operates like a Hong Kong Parliament – remains a largely “toothless” body, with half its seats dominated by elitist functional constituencies comprising of bankers, property tycoons, and other so-called trade-based groups.