Opposition lawmakers wooed to keep reform on track; 5 votes needed

Updated: 2015-06-05 07:40

By Timothy Chui in Hong Kong(China Daily)

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Hong Kong's chief executive and constitutional affairs officials have stepped up attempts to gain the support of a handful of opposition lawmakers needed to ensure that the city's constitutional reform process stays on track.

The electoral reform package, expected to be voted on by the Legislative Council on June 17, requires two-thirds support or 47 out of 70 votes to pass. Pro-government parties hold 43 seats to the opposition's 27.

The government is appealing for five moderate opposition members to cross the floor with their votes, with Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing pledging to resign from his role to help shore up the pro-government vote.

A pledge by independent pro-government lawmaker Leung Ka-lau to veto the proposal has raised the stakes for the government to recruit opposition support for it to pass in Hong Kong's first leadership election by universal suffrage.

Talks on Thursday afternoon between Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and medical sector lawmaker Leung Ka-lau failed to make any headway, while a meeting between Chief Secretary Carrie Lam and opposition lawmakers from the Civic Party also failed to dilute threats of an opposition veto.

With just five votes standing between greater political participation for 3.5 million registered voters or greater uncertainty over whether the city will extend universal suffrage to the election of its chief executive, the results of decades of political wrangling and planning are coming down to the wire.

The latest charm offensive by the chief executive comes after opposition members failed to narrow their differences during a dialogue on Sunday with officials from Beijing in Shenzhen.

Lam is expected to meet with opposition members from the Democratic Party on Friday.

Efforts to recruit moderate opposition members to the government's cause have been hampered by party discipline. Veteran Democratic Party member Nelson Wong Sing-chi quit the party's central committee after being criticized for calling on colleagues to support the government's proposal.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen said the administration would spare no effort in ensuring the reform package is passed, scheduling talks with lawmakers who hold the city's political reform future in their hands.

The government has held such talks previously, and while the gap remains wide, Tam said continued dialogue is a "meaningful act in its own right".

Members of the opposition Labour Party are scheduled to meet with Lam on Monday, while talks with other parties are scheduled for Tuesday.


(China Daily 06/05/2015 page4)