10 June 1997

The Democratic Party Holds Fourth Meeting with Chief Executive Designate Tung; Calls for Genuine Elections, Democratic Amendments to the Basic Law

Today four Democratic Party legislators led by Chairman Martin Lee met Chief Executive Designate Tung to insist that Hong Kong's future elections be free and fair and that the Basic Law be amended to permit more democracy.

Martin Lee, Vice-chairmen Yeung Sum and Anthony Cheung and Lee Wing-tat proposed that Mr. Tung set up a task force to study amending the Basic Law (under which still only half of the legislature will be elected by 2003) so as to quicken the pace of democratisation in Hong Kong -- a recommendation Mr. Tung immediately rejected. The legislators also proposed that the Party's regular meetings with Mr. Tung continue and that spokesmen on a variety of livelihood issues should continue to have access to top civil servants to press issues of concern to Hong Kong citizens. Mr. Tung responded positively to this recommendation and the continuation of dialogue was welcomed by the democrats.

The legislators discussed with Mr. Tung the two proposals advocated by pro-Beijing parties for electoral changes to the 20 directly elected seats, including proportional representation (which will dilute the strength of the largest party) and the so-called "single-vote, multi-seat" method (which forces democrats to stand against each other). They strongly urged Mr. Tung to retain the existing elected legislature and the "single vote, single seat" system on the basis that there is no legitimate reason to change and that the two alternate proposals are clearly intended to reduce the number of democrats, who have consistently won the largest number of seats in every election in Hong Kong. Furthermore, the business sector already dominates the 30 functional constituencies which have substantially smaller electorates.

Mr. Tung asserted that the current electoral system and legislature had already been nullified by China and that the Preparatory Committee had already determined the electoral method for the 20 seats would either be by proportional representation or the "single vote, multi-seat" method.

Democratic Party Chairman Martin Lee commented:

"This seems to be a case of starting with the desired result -- reducing the number of democrats -- and working backwards to an electoral system which will produce this result.

The first option in any genuine consultation should be asking whether Hong Kong people want to keep the existing electoral system. There is no evidence whatsoever that Hong Kong people want to replace our elected legislature with an appointed one, or change to a system which would reduce their electoral options. Offering Hong Kong a 'choice' between two electoral methods, both of which would curtail their franchise, is analogous to a triad member coming to your home and threatening to cut off one of your hands -- but you get to choose which one.

Whenever Hong Kong people have had an opportunity to vote, they have overwhelmingly supported those who would fight for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. But no matter how the electoral playing field is tilted, the Democratic Party intends to contest the 1998 elections, and we have faith Hong Kong people will find a way to express their support."

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