The protesters have overstayed their welcome in Admiralty. They should withdraw and set a new deadline for C Y Leung to do the right thing: send a new report to the NPCSC, recommending restoring the nomination threshold to 12.5% from 50%. That would achieve free and fair elections without civic nomination. After all, only 305 members of the 1200-member committee nominated him in 2012. A New Year's Day march should celebrate or protest his choice. Sign the petition!

Moving on from Occupy to the Central Issue
7 December 2014

Someone should take former Secretary for Insecurity Regina Ip Lau Suk Yee to task for today's opinion piece in the SCMP. So we will. Mrs Ip is the person, you will remember, who was quoted just 15 months ago, on 24-Aug-2013 (Vote for chief executive must be wide open, says Regina Ip) as follows:

"She told the South China Morning Post the dividend brought by universal suffrage, such as a stronger mandate for chief executive, would be lost if the electoral or nominating methods were rigged to rule out some candidates."

Quite right, and it also suited her interest in becoming CE. Like any potential candidate, she should have a fair opportunity. But Mrs Ip is someone who changes her tune more often than a jittery jukebox, and she now prefers her chances under a rigged election, if the British-trained bureaucrat can ingratiate herself with Beijing first. She says that the Occupy protest is "not really about democracy" and opines:

"Occupy is an attempt to redefine "one country, two systems" and, by implication, Hong Kong's relationship with China. By rejecting the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee of August 31, which ensures Beijing's say on the outcome of the chief executive election in 2017 via the nominating committee, the Occupy demonstrators are effectively saying no to China's sovereignty over Hong Kong."

No, Mrs Ip, they are not saying that. The protesters, like the majority of HK people who have voted for pan-democrat candidates in every Legislative Council election since the Handover, just want what they were promised: universal suffrage to elect their own leader, as a highly autonomous Special Administrative Region of China. Yes, that is a call for self-determination, but no, it is not a call for independent sovereignty. She fails to mention that "Hong Kong People ruling Hong Kong" is exactly what we were promised. Look no further than the Government's "Hong Kong: The Facts" sheet:

"The Basic Law is a constitutional document for the HKSAR. It enshrines within a legal document the important concepts of 'one country, two systems', 'a high degree of autonomy' and 'Hong Kong People ruling Hong Kong'."

You cannot have true democracy if someone else picks your leader, or eliminates popular candidates before the election. The nomination threshold for the Chief Executive has until now been 1/8 (12.5%) of the Election Committee, and Beijing wants to quadruple that to 50%, principally because the CPC-Tycoon coalition that forms a majority of the committee would no longer elect the winner, so it must have a right to veto any candidate, or as Mrs Ip put it "ensure Beijing's say on the outcome of the chief executive election".

The "Hong Kong People" want to elect their own leader, just like the peoples of California or Florida do when they elect their Governor, without the US Government having to approve the candidates. They have a high degree of autonomy within the USA, not absolute autonomy. They don't have sovereignty. The same is true of all federal countries, and of places like Scotland within the United Kingdom.

The protesters have undoubtedly overstayed their very popular welcome in Admiralty, with a clear majority in opinion polls saying they should end. However, there is also a clear majority who support the reasons the protesters are there in the first place. Of those who express a view, the majority of HK people have repeatedly said that the NPCSC proposal of 31-Aug-2014 is not just bad, but so bad that the Legislative Council should veto it and implicitly hold out for something better, rather than pocket fake democracy and have a chance to vote for the least-unpopular Beijing-approved candidate. In the latest CUHK poll taken on 5-11-Nov-2014, 56.4% of those who expressed a view said LegCo should veto the proposal (table 6). Amongst the remainder there are surely many who would prefer something better but would take what they can get.

In his latest patronising remarks today, Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying again ruled out sending a new report to the NPCSC asking for a fresh decision and said:

"Students who are on hunger strike and other students taking part in the Occupy protest are not familiar with, first the content of the Basic Law, second the decision handed down by the NPCSC and more importantly third, the process of political reform."

They are very familiar with it, Mr Leung, as are the constitutional law experts who advise them, and as are you. They know that it is entirely within your rights, as Chief Executive, to send a new report to the NPCSC, whenever you feel it is appropriate. This would not be a complete restart, because you have already held a consultation and would not need to repeat that. All you need to do is properly reflect the "actual situation" in HK. To quote the NPCSC interpretation of 6-Apr-2004:

"The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall make a report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress as regards whether there is a need to make an amendment; and the [NPCSC] shall...make a determination in the light of the actual situation in the [HKSAR]".

If you don't think there has been a change in the "actual situation in the HKSAR" since you started the consultation exercise on 4-Dec-2013, then you haven't been watching the news. The Umbrella Movement has made it plain and clear that the Hong Kong People are out of patience with being ruled by a leader without a popular electoral mandate. They want a Government that is led by the most popular candidate and who can work with a fully-elected legislature to get things done.

So do the right thing, Mr Leung. Send a new report to the NPCSC, advising them to restore the nomination threshold to 12.5% from 50%. Don't forget that you were only nominated by 305 members of the 1200-member committee in 2012, while 578 members nominated someone else. The majority of HK people would undoubtedly see restoration of the 12.5% threshold as providing free and fair elections, without introducing civic nomination and without any amendment to the Basic Law.

The protesters should now clear the streets, and give the Chief Executive a reasonable time, we suggest until 1st January 2015, to send this new report to Beijing. A further march should now be organised for that day, to either celebrate that he has, or protest that he has not, sent that report. Simply pushing on with "phase 2" and rearranging the Nominating Committee would be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. With a 50% approval threshold, it is never going to produce a free and fair election.

Sign the petition for C Y Leung to send a new report to the NPCSC. Your e-mail address will not be disclosed.

©, 2014

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