Why Hong Kong’s 2015 political reform plan deserves another airing

I write to echo the views of Professor Anthony Cheung in his article of August 12, “Hong Kong needs a win in democratic progress, however small”.
As Winston Churchill once said: “Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.” I have to point out, though, that while democracy provides a relatively peaceful method for people to deal with differences and disputes, it should not be the ultimate goal – as it is merely a process for making a country better.
Although democracy cannot solve problems such as a housing shortage or poverty directly, it can lay controversial issues to rest with a decision approved by the majority, and this is what Hong Kong needs now.
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Technically speaking, the proposal for universal suffrage in the chief executive election requires compliance with the August 31, 2014 decision of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. Not a few high government officials from Beijing have emphasised that the framework of this decision leaves no place for negotiation.
In my view, even if the government merely reintroduced precisely the same proposal for constitutional reform as in 2015, I would accept it this time as Hong Kong needs a victory, no matter how small it is.
Some may assert that, since Beijing is starting to exercise comprehensive governance and step up its direct supervision of Hong Kong, there is no incentive for Beijing to back universal suffrage again and risk creating uncertainty.
In the wake of the national security law, if Beijing desires to regain international trust and assuage the concerns of Britain, the European Union and other countries, the introduction of universal suffrage in Hong Kong may be the best low-cost option on the table.
Louis Yim, Shau Kei Wan
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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
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