Our take on yesterday's command from Beijing.

Soon, we can all be rubber stamps
1 September 2014

There's a very simple and logical conclusion to draw about yesterday's decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

In the previous Chief Executive "elections" (we must use quotes here), Beijing allowed any candidate to run if he could gain the nomination of at least one eighth (150) of the 1200-member Election Committee (or 100 of 800 in 2002, 2005 and 2007). They allowed this, because they knew that the Election Committee was so tilted towards Beijing that no candidate without Beijing's support would get a 50% majority of the votes when the same committee elected the Chief Executive. So it didn't matter to Beijing that pro-democracy candidates Alan Leong Kah Kit (2007) and Albert Ho Chun Yan (2012) were nominated - in fact, that tended to legitimise the sham.

Now, Beijing wants the same committee to act as a nominating committee but to give up its election rights to the general public. Beijing can only guarantee a friendly winner if it raises the nomination threshold to 50%, giving the Election Committee the same power it had before. Only if the committee pre-elects a candidate can she stand for public election, and the committee will be asked to pre-elect 2 or 3 candidates to create the illusion of public choice. So by raising the threshold, Beijing is implicitly admitting that the committee is rigged in its favour.

Basic Law Article 45 requires that the nominating committee be "broadly representative" but it does not say of whom. Of course, it is "broadly representative" of Beijing and the tycoons, but not of the general public.

The unfortunate takeaway from all this, is that HK will continue indefinitely with a series of Chief Executives who have no real mandate, and find it almost impossible to do anything other than handouts (until the money runs out) and populist interventions in the economy. This is not so much a recipe for universal suffrage as universal suffering. Even if the NPCSC's proposal is passed by the necessary 2/3 majority of the Legislative Council, whoever wins the next Chief Executive election will be the least unpopular of 2 or 3 Beijing-endorsed candidates, but will not have a popular mandate.

© Webb-site.com, 2014

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