Democrats are pushing Beijing to keep the door open for further negotiations. By sticking to the 5 Step process, meaningful negotiations could still happen. Maybe.
Pan-democrats (except People Power, LSD and Wong Yuk-man) have confirmed they will meet with Zhang Xiaoming (張曉明) and others from the Liaison Office in a series of meetings. Things kick off this Friday with Democratic Party making the first visit.
The trio – Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam – will also join all four meetings which will be held at the Central Government Offices in Admiralty.
Step by step
At a press conference held by 8 members of the pan-democratic camp today at LegCo, the democrats had a new message for the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) when they meet later this month. Labour Party Chair Lee Cheuk-yan and Ip Kin-yuen from the Education sector urged the NPCSC not to set a framework on the CE election mechanism but to follow the rules of the “Five Steps” and only approve the CE report. This would officially kick start Step 2 of the constitutional reform process.
One more time! The bottom line
Democratic Party Chair Emily Lau laid down the bottom line: no political screening or unreasonable restraint on the nomination and Hong Kong people must be offered genuine choices.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong was aligned with Ms Lau’s bottom line and said the pan-democrats clearly defined the term “no screening” a year ago. He also lashed out against rhetoric about the absence of a single international standard.
50% is no pass
Some pro-establishment politicians have suggested that the nomination barrier will be set at 50% of the Nomination Committee size. Both Ms Lau and Mr Leong considered that unacceptable. Mr Leong said it will be “catastrophic” if Beijing insists on such high barrier. He also saw the 50% barrier as a step backwards: In the 2012 CE election, candidates could secure a nomination if they were approved by 12.5% of the Election Committee.
When asked about whether they will accept a proposal that differs from the 3-track proposal but will still meet the international standards, Emily Lau said they will call for another referendum with the Occupy Central group. However, Lee Cheuk-yan said they will stand firm for the 3-track proposal until and unless Beijing presents them with another acceptable proposal.
There remains roughly two weeks before the NPCSC convenes on 25 August. Ip Kin-yuen observed that if decisions are already made then the coming meetings between pan-democrats and the Liaison Office will be rendered meaningless. His speculation has some grounds as Beijing knows the position of the pan-democrats, so are these meetings with pan-democrats merely a political show?