Chairman of the Civic Party responses to the Bar’s Submission on the issue of public nomination
I am glad that the Bar Association held a press conference today to point out some of the mistakes and omissions in the Government’s Consultation Document on Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 and for Forming the Legislative Council in 2016. Whilst agreeing on the general and basic principles in the Bar’s Submission (e.g. compliance with international standards, no pre-screening in the nomination process, to require majority NC support is unconstitutional and there must be free choice and expression of views etc), I differ on the issue of public nomination.
The current consultation is all about the rules and regulations to be placed on the nominating committee (NC). This includes discussions on the threshold for nomination, the democratic procedures for nomination, whether nomination can require majority endorsement, whether there can be a cap on the number of candidates, whether NC should consider public recommendation etc. All these are legal restrictions to regulate the composition and operation of the NC. Any legal body, including the NC, cannot have absolute power, they must be subject to reasonable restrictions. What are and what are not reasonable restrictions to be imposed can be a matter of debate. In particular, if the composition of the NC is not broadly representative, how can it – using the words of the Bar’s summary at paragraph 7 – “ensure the maximum extent of participation of the electorate”? Hence there can be different views as to whether it is reasonable to require the NC to accept as ONE of the tracks or methods of nomination, a person with a required number of public nomination as evidence of popular and democratic support. As the Chairman of the Bar Paul Shieh QC admitted at the press conference, the Bar’s Submissions are not final and conclusive on the matter, different barristers may well reach different conclusions
Having carefully considered the full 44 page English submission as well as the English and Chinese summaries, I am still of the view, whether on the legal or political level, public nomination as one of the tracks for nomination is constitutional, legal and reasonable. I urge the Hong Kong people to speak out and defend our constitutional rights in the face of strong pressure from the central authorities, the SAR government and the pro-establishment forces in pushing a prescreening nomination process for the Chief Executive.
Audrey Eu S.C.
Chairman of the Civic Party
Former Chairman of the HK Bar Association
29th April 2014