Chairman's Message
Chairman's Message - ork Together for Implementation of Universal Suffrage

Dr Charles YEUNG (Chairman of the 48th, 49th terms of office) May 2015


The specific constitutional reform package recently announced by the HKSAR Government provides a constitutional, reasonable and feasible approach to achieve “one person, one vote”universal suffrage for the 2017 Chief Executive election. We recognise that constitutional reform must gradually progress in accordance with the law. We hope members of the Legislative Council would respect mainstream opinion on the implementation of universal suffrage and support the constitutional reform package in a pragmatic manner to open the window of opportunity in the history of democratic development of Hong Kong’s constitutional system.


Implement Universal Suffrage for CE According to Law

The HKSAR Government has stressed that the constitutional reform package must comply with the Basic Law and the “August 31 Decision” in order to stay consistent with the “one country, two systems” principle and be in line with the HKSAR’s constitutional status as a local region directly under the Central People’s Government. We fully agree in this regard as only in this way can we effectively implement the Basic Law with respect to the responsibilities and requirements for the Chief Executive under the constitution. It also provides a legal basis for realising the election of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage, which is also a concrete manifestation of safeguarding Hong Kong’s principle of the rule of law and core values.


In accordance with the framework of the Basic Law and the relevant provisions of the “August 31 Decision”, the constitutional reform package will retain the composition of the Nomination Committee of 1,200 members from four sectors. Number of sub-sectors and committee members remains unchanged. The relevant arrangement, which has been effectively implemented for the election of the Chief Executive in the past, covers all social strata and is in line with the basic principles of “broad representation” and “balanced participation”.


Thumb-ups to Increasing Elements of Democracy

As democracy can never be achieved overnight, progressive constitutional development will better serve Hong Kong’s interests. The constitutional reform package has gradually become more democratic and transparent. For example, it sets a low threshold for candidacy so that potential candidates need only to obtain nomination from 10% of the Nomination Committee members. Putting a cap on the number of Nomination Committee member recommendations will not only encourage more people in different sectors to participate, but also increase their chances of success in taking part in the election.


The Nomination Committee will vote by secret ballot. The top two or three prospective candidates who have the support of a majority of Nomination Committee members and received the highest number of votes will finally become official candidates. This will ensure that the Nomination Committee will follow the “majority rules” principle and enable candidates of different backgrounds, including those from the pro-democracy camp and centrists, to have the opportunity to compete. At the stage when voters cast their votes based on the “one person, one vote” system, only one round of voting will be held. Whoever gets the most votes will be elected. There is no need to obtain a majority of valid votes. To the general voters, this is both easy to understand and simple to operate, which will help attract more people to exercise their voting rights.


Mainstream Public in Support of Adoption of the Package

Achieving universal suffrage for the 2017 Chief Executive election is the common aspiration of the Central Government, the HKSAR Government and the majority of the Hong Kong people. Recent polls conducted by different groups have shown that about 60% of Hong Kong’s residents hope to see the implementation of universal suffrage in accordance with the law. In early April, in conjunction with CMA, we conducted a questionnaire survey on our respective members. Among the respondents, more than 95% agree that universal suffrage should be implemented in accordance with the Basic Law and the “August 31 Decision” and members of the Legislative Council should respect the opinion of the majority and vote in favour of the constitutional reform package. 90% of respondents agree that expanding the election of the Chief Executive by the 1,200-member Election Committee to five million eligible voters is a big step forward and vetoing the package has absolutely no benefit to Hong Kong’s longterm constitutional development.


Undoubtedly, it is better for our constitutional system to move forward than to stand still. At this critical moment for constitutional reform, we appeal to all CGCC members, the business community and the society to actively express their views via various channels so that members of the Legislative Council can more clearly listen to business sector and the mainstream opinions on the implementation of constitutional reform. I believe that as long as we work together, the Hong Kong people will surely achieve its goal of implementing universal suffrage for the 2017 Chief Executive election.