Labour organizations’ joint statement on the political reform proposal

“Pocket it first” most likely means “Pocket it forever”
False universal suffrage & real screening to sift out labour rights and livelihood demands
Labour organizations’ joint statement on the political reform proposal

                                            23 April 2015


The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (hereafter: HK government) unveiled its final version of political reform proposal yesterday, sticking to the tight framework, known as “831 decision”, laid down by the National People's Congress (NPC) on 31 August 2014. The decision only allows the public vote on candidates, who have been pre-selected by a 1200-member pro-Beijing nominating committee. We, a group of labour organizations, are extremely dissatisfied by this proposal and would like to express our strongest objection to the HK government.

Dream of universal suffrage broken

The proposal requires the candidates to win at least a half of committee votes to go forward to a final, public vote and limits the number of candidates to 3. It means the nominating committee, led by the business sector, would have the ultimate power in picking candidates. In other words, demands to improve labour conditions would end in vain. The performance of C.Y. Leung, the current Chief Executive is a vivid example of how a candidate would kowtow to the business sector. He had made numerous promises to improve labour conditions while running for office, but once elected, he failed to bring forward any reform on housing, labour, education and many other livelihood issues. To make it worse, he has sided with the business and attempted to relax the control and scale of labour importation, which would cause local workers’ jobs and threaten their working conditions.
Leung clearly demonstrates that no matter how rosy a picture a candidate paints, as long as her/his candidacy is controlled by a small committee of privileged people, s/he would have to pay back. However, the whole Hong Kong society is paying the price for such deals and as a result, political, economic, social and livelihood reforms are delayed and obstructed.

Staying where we are is better than stepping into a trap

We believe, it is crucial for the general public to realize the scourge of false universal suffrage. Leung, elected by 689 committee members might not dare to forcibly push natioanl education forward, but if he would have been a new Chief Executive with 689,000 votes, he might claim to be “authorized by the Hong Kong people” and push for the legislation of Article 23, national education, large scale of labour importation and etc.
The government and the pro-Beijing camp are trying all means to pass this proposal at the Legislative Council (Legco), claiming that gradual improvement would be possible. Yet, both Chinese and HK governments have repeatedly emphasized that getting at least half of the votes from the nominating committee is fulfilling the constitutional obligation and Carrie Lam, Chief Secretary of the HK government also keeps saying it is a “very reasonable” practice. All these hint that the idea of  “pocket it first” for gradual improvement, is either a naïve thinking or a trick to lure us. In reality, “pocket it first” would only lead to “pocket it forever”.
Realizing this, we firmly refuse an electoral system which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and privileged groups. We call on all lawmakers at the Legco, to prioritize genuine universal suffrage and to put the interests of working class and Hong Kong first, to veto this proposal. They should demand the NPC to withdraw its “831 decision” and the HK government to re-initiate the “5-Step Process of Constitutional Development”, to finally realize universal suffrage for both Legco and Chief Executive.

Thus, we demand:
All Legco members to veto the HK government’s political reform proposal;
The NPC to withdraw its “831 decision”;
The HK government to re-initiate the “5-Step Process of Constitutional
Development”, to realize universal suffrage for Chief executive and Legco.

Signed by:
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions
Labour Party, Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre
Hong Kong Women Workers' Association
Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union
Hong Kong Catholic Commission For Labour Affairs
Industrial Relations Institute, Workers' Rights' Association