CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 10 November 2018

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Election Committee screens out candidates

The nomination period for the Election Committee, which will choose the next chief executive of Hong Kong, ended on November 14.

While the Catholic Church is allocated 10 of the 60 seats for the religious sector, Pan-Democrats are running in other sub-sectors in the hope of making an impact on public opinion, setting an election agenda and even affecting a directional change.

The framework of the choosing of the chief executive by small-circle was strengthened by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on 31 August 2014 when it excluded an election by universal suffrage in 2017.

Since implementation of universal suffrage for the chief executive and the Legislative Council (LegCo) will not be realised in the foreseeable future, what influence does the Electoral Committee have anyway?

Some Catholics called for a boycott of what they call an unjust system, echoing a past appeal for universal civic nomination in the selection process to avoid screening of candidates.

The Justice and Peace Commission declared on October 30, “Running for the Electoral Committee sub-sector elections cannot change the unjust political system, but rather strengthens the role of the committee, leading to the loss of our driving force and justification for reform.”

The encyclical, One Hundred Years (Centesimus Annus), points out that the Church “cannot encourage the formation of narrow ruling groups which usurp the power of the state for individual interests or for ideological ends” (46).

The small-circle election only reflects the preferences of vested interests. This structure fails. Civil society has been critical of this. In the past, various groups have tried to achieve consensus on universal suffrage by proposing new election methods through “universal suffrage deliberation days” and a referendum.

The fact that universal suffrage will not be introduced has resulted in a loss of vision and the calls for Hong Kong independence have emerged. Some say Hong Kong independence was originally a deceptive proposition, but the more repressive the government, the hotter the issue becomes.

The recent interpretation of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress aims to exclude LegCo members associated in any way with the independence call.

Silencing civic voices is dangerous, as the executive-legislature relationship is worsening, so focus must revert to constitutional reform.

With no hope of universal suffrage in the short run, some hope that capable people will run for chief executive, but regardless of popularity, a chief executive-elect without the people’s mandate is a disaster.

The contribution of the Church is not to involve itself in the political system, but “is precisely her vision of the dignity of the person revealed in all its fullness in the mystery of the Incarnate Word” (47). While people in politics pay attention to elections, the Church must have concern for the entire generation.

Christians must focus on the entirety of salvation history, safeguarding human dignity, building the value of justice and embracing hope in face of darkness.

 

In an impatient era of lost direction, the Church needs moral courage in defending its principles to protect Hong Kong’s core values in collaboration with society. This witness can be a catalyst for hope in a polarised society. SE