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Restarting reform process would be too risky: govt

2019-01-09 HKT 12:57
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  • Restarting reform process would be too risky: govt
Frances Sit reports
Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Secretary Patrick Nip says Hong Kong is no position to restart the political reform process at the moment, warning lawmakers that any "rash" attempt to do so could lead to some people taking "extreme action".

At a Legco meeting on Wednesday, the Democratic Party's James To asked whether the government would consider making another attempt at electoral reform, so the next chief executive can be chosen by "one man, one vote" in 2022.

But Nip said the reform process could only resume once society reaches a consensus on the 2014 framework Beijing set out for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress had spelt out a number of restrictions on how Hong Kong voters could elect a chief executive in the 2017 poll.

But its stipulations would have enabled Beijing to screen out any candidates it didn't like and the announcement of the requirements led to the 79-day Occupy movement. The following year, Legco rejected an electoral reform bill based on the framework.

Responding to To's query, Nip said that rashly restarting the political reform process would only divide society and "may even lead to some people resorting to extreme actions, thus seriously affecting the economic and social development of Hong Kong".

He said Beijing's framework was "legally sound" and it is important to have a common legal basis before discussions restart.

"If we are to restart constitutional reform, or further promote its development, this is a starting point. If we cannot even reach a consensus on this fundamental legal basis, I don't see how we are in a position to further our reform proposal," Nip said.