Former judge and chief executive contender Woo Kwok-hing has suggested that the city’s leader could be indirectly elected by more than three million voters by 2032. But a political scientist has said Woo’s plan was unfeasible under the framework set by Beijing.
Woo said in a Commercial Radio interview on Wednesday that, after he was elected, he would restart the political reform process under Beijing’s framework set in August 31, 2014. The decision by Beijing stated that chief executive candidates must be vetted by a “broadly representative” nomination committee – a reformed version of the existing chief executive election committee – before running for the popular vote.
Currently, the 1,200-member committee is elected by around 246,000 electors in different professional sectors. Woo suggested the number of electors could be gradually increased to three million by 2032 – the year of the 35th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover – and that it would offer de facto universal suffrage without having to retract Beijing’s 2014 decision.
Woo added that he made attempts to persuade the pro-Beijing camp to support this plan, so that they did not have to consider the civil nomination proposal rejected by Beijing. Woo said almost everyone said it was possible.
The political reform package – designed by the Hong Kong government under Beijing’s framework – was rejected by the Legislative Council last year.
But Brian Fong Chi-hang, associate professor at the Academy of Hong Kong Studies of the Education University of Hong Kong, said Woo’s plan was unfeasible.
“It is in violation of the August 31 decision by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress,” he said.
Fong said the “harshest” provision of the decision deemed Woo’s plan impossible: “The provisions for the number of members, composition and formation method of the nominating committee shall be made in accordance with the number of members, composition and formation method of the Election Committee for the Fourth Chief Executive [in 2012].”
“It rules that the power structure of the committee must be maintained in its current state – mostly controlled by the pro-Beijing camp. Woo’s suggestion cannot bypass the decision,” Fong said.
Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and chairman of Beijing’s Basic Law Committee, stated last year that the 2014 decision will remain effective beyond 2017.
Woo also suggested in the interview that there should be a multiple level pension scheme for retirement.
Retirees could each get HK$2,500 per month without any means test, he said, and may be able to receive HK$1,000 more after signing a declaration that their assets do not total over HK$400,000 or HK$500,000.
He also suggested the government put HK$100 billion into merging the Old Age Allowance and the Old Age Living Allowance, incorporating savings in the Mandatory Provident Fund. He suggested a possible need to increase profits tax.
Small house policy
On the controversial Small House Policy, Woo said he was considering a plan whereby the government sets up a company for a scheme where indigenous people can exchange their rights to build small houses using shares in the company. The shares can then be transferred to the next generation, but the application for the exchange will have a deadline.
Under the Small House Policy, male indigenous villagers who are descendants of a male line from a recognised village may apply to build a small house of up to three storeys high, on either their own land at zero premium or on public land through a private treaty grant, once during their lifetime. The right is non-transferable.
Woo remains the only contender who has announced he will make an attempt to run for the chief executive election.