CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 June 2017

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A sham that demands attention

HONG KONG (SE): The Justice and Peace Commission is urging people to be concerned and take an interest in the selection of the next chief executive, who is set to be chosen from a running pack of three by an elite, small circle Election Committee made up of only 1,194 people on March 26.

The commission has joined various campaigns organised by civic organisations against the small circle selection process as a way of reinforcing the demand of Hong Kong people for real and genuine universal suffrage in the Special Administrative Region of China.

The commission statement was posted in its website on March 1 and later published in the Kung Kao Po on March 5.

The statement likens the current selection process for the chief executive to an illusory drama designed to lull people into believing they are actually taking part in the process.

It points out that the formation of the Election Committee and the selection system is designed by the Chinese government to keep control of the outcome and protect the interests of privileged groups in the political and business fields, both in Hong Kong and China.

It also states that the three candidates, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, John Tsang Chun-wah and Woo Kwok-hing seem devoid of any proposals to protect the interests of the grassroots and marginalised groups in the city.

The statement says that many supporters of democratic movements have engineered their way onto the Election Committee in an attempt to influence the end result, even though they constitute only a minority of the total number.

This strategy, while it is not in line with any democratic principles, is a last ditch stand prompted by perpetual disappointment to try and change the status quo and may even be the result of fear caused by the current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, and the policies he has pursued to protect vested interests over the past five years.

The commission emphasises that eradicating what it sees as a spreading fear is the development of a holistic social vision based on the teaching of Jesus Christ.

The small circle vote for the city’s top job has been widely criticised as lacking public acceptance. Early in the scramble to grab a prized spot on the Election Committee late last year, some from the anti-establishment camp were urging others on the committee to cast a protest vote as a demand for a fair election.

However, some believe that the nomination process, which eliminates a few of the chief executive hopefuls, at least facilitates discussion on policies related to livelihood issues and compels those who survive the cull to listen to the voice of the people.

Bruce Lui Ping-kuen, from the Higher Education Subsector, told the Kung Kao Po on February 27 that Beijing’s high-handed manipulation of the selection process shows it is worried about the influence of the anti-establishment group on the Election Committee outcome, which may end up affecting a result not favoured by the Chinese Communist Party.

He shared that his subsector had talked to representatives of the marginalised groups before expressing its views to the three candidates.

He claimed that his subsector would chose to nominate Woo or Tsang, based on the result of a popularity survey carried out by civic organisations.

The lecturer in journalism encouraged the mass media to continue disclosing the truth during the campaign period, adding that he also hopes Hong Kong people will think independently and not be fooled by the media into believing in any candidate who simply postures as eager to address the needs of the people.

The Hong Kong Christian Council organised a forum for the Religious Subsector of the Election Committee at the Methodist Church in Wai Chai on March 5. Over 10 of them, together with some representatives from other subsectors attended.

Tang Wai-yee, from the Religious Subsector, said Christians on the Election Committee do not represent their Churches and she is there not only as a Christian, but also as a Hong Kong person demanding one person one vote.

Tang said she had asked candidates about their views on the 831 decision of the Standing Committee of the National People Congress made on 31 August 2014 directing the 1,200-strong nominating committee to contain the pack of possible candidates to two or three, as well as to gather opinions on the postponed implementation of universal suffrage.

Kristine Pang Kit-yi, from the medical subsector, said she is glad to see people voting in the popularity campaigns organised by civic organisations for the reference of the committee members, but she emphasised that participating does not equate to the right to vote.

Reverend Lam Hoi-shing said as the election is a false one, the focus of Christians should not be on the manifesto of the candidates, but on how to fight for democracy.

He stressed that he believes the Election Committee should not bargain with the candidates for more benefits, as the bottom line is a vote for each and every person in the special administrative region.

A group distributed leaflets outside the church urging the Election Committee to cast a protest vote. The leaflets point out that whoever is chosen cannot change the fact that he or she is appointed not elected, so Christians should focus on changing the system.

However, Roger Cheng Hon-man, from the Higher Education Subsector, said Christians have a duty to make the best use of whatever system they have, so a protest vote is not considered an option.

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