HONG KONG – Hong Kong leaders are launching a second consultation on how choose the city's top leader in 2017, after signaling their firm intention to stick with a proposal to screen candidates, an issue that sparked massive street protests throughout the fall.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam is scheduled to open the weekslong consultation by addressing the territory's Legislative Council on Wednesday. She will likely be grilled by so-called pan-democrat legislators who accuse Hong Kong's government of breaking promises to let the city choose its chief executive through universal suffrage.
The government said Tuesday in a report that it remained committed to a plan requiring that candidates be picked by a committee believed to be biased toward Beijing. That plan was reached in August and prompted thousands of pro-democracy protesters to blocked streets in Hong Kong for more than two months demanding open nominations for chief executive.
The Tuesday report noted that "constitutional development is an extremely controversial issue," but said it was the "common aspiration" of Hong Kong's residents, its government and central Chinese authorities to implement the vote according to the city's own Basic Law and the August decision by the Chinese National People's Congress Standing Committee.
"The (Hong Kong) Government wishes to discuss with different sectors of the community specific electoral issues in a rational and pragmatic manner, and work out together a fair, just, transparent and competitive proposal" for choosing the chief executive, the report read.
The council must approve by a two-thirds majority any election plan that will then be submitted to central Chinese authorities.
Pan-democrat legislators have debated whether to vote down a plan that includes the proposed nominating committee, a move that would keep in place the territory's current system of choosing its chief executive directly through an election committee many believe also favors Beijing.