Polls show majority in HK support vote reform plan

By Catherine Wong Tsoi-lai in Hong Kong Source:Global Times Published: 2015-6-17 0:23:01

Security alert raised in wake of arrests of suspected bomb plotters

A suspect is escorted by police officers during a crime reconstruction in Sai Kung district in Hong Kong on Tuesday, a day after explosives were seized at an abandoned television studio. Six people will appear in court Wednesday on charges of conspiracy to cause explosion. It is not clear if they meant to disrupt the LegCo vote on a political reform package. Photo: AFP

More Hong Kong residents support the government's reform plan than oppose it, a number of polls revealed Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's crucial meeting which will debate methods to elect the new chief executive in 2017.

Pro-reform group leaders have told the Global Times that the polls show that local lawmakers have a duty to reflect public opinion when they vote.

A poll jointly conducted by the University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong and Polytechnic University shows that from June 11 until Monday, 45 percent of 1,111 interviewees support the proposal, while 40 percent oppose it.

Another poll by reform advocates Defend Hong Kong Campaign revealed Tuesday that 52 percent of the 1,369 interviewees support the government proposal, while 37 percent do not. The poll was conducted from June 8 until Monday.

"Most polls have similar results with most Hong Kong people supporting the current proposal. Lawmakers should respect the opinion of the majority, and should not oppose the proposal for the sake of opposing it," Fu Chun-chung, convener of Defend Hong Kong Campaign, told the Global Times.

Support from a two-thirds majority, meaning 47 of the total 70 LegCo members, is required to pass the bill. Forty-one lawmakers have openly declared that they will support the plan, while all 23 lawmakers from the pan-democratic camp have vowed to veto it, as they believe the plan does not offer what they believe is "genuine democracy."

LegCo is expected to debate the plan for two to three days before voting on the bill.

Lawmaker Ann Chiang urged her counterparts to put aside political differences and vote for the plan.

"I have talked to pan-democratic lawmakers and realize that some have actually expressed privately to me their desire to support the plan. They are aware of the poll results which are in favor of the government plan, but have been discouraged by the pressure imposed by other opposition lawmakers," said Chiang.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying made clear that if LegCo fails to pass the reform package, no more effort would be given to electoral development.

Leung also condemned an alleged bomb plot which appeared to target areas near the Legislative Council (LegCo) building, saying that all forms of illegal activities should not be tolerated.

Security has been tightened after the discovery of the cache of explosive materials in Sai Kung Monday. Police arrested 10 people who are alleged to have been planning bomb attacks on the Admiralty and Wan Chai districts, near the LegCo building. Six of them are expected to appear at a court on Wednesday on charges of conspiracy to cause an explosion.

Police said they are still examining the possibility of whether the alleged plan was intended to disrupt the Wednesday meeting.

Many "localist" groups, such as Hong Kong Localism Power, have denied involvement and distanced themselves from the group National Independence Party, allegedly the masterminds behind the plot.

LegCo president, Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, said Tuesday that the risk alert will be raised to yellow, meaning only 10 members of the public can observe the Wednesday meeting. Police officers will also be allowed to enter the LegCo building. Previous reports suggest that 8,000 police officers will be deployed. 

Pan-democratic groups vowed a mass sit-in starting Wednesday outside the LegCo building to express opposition to the reform.

Groups in favor of reform will also show their support outside the LegCO building, said Fu. Patrick Ko Tat-pun, convenor of The Voice for Loving Hong Kong, also told the Global Times that his group will mobilize hundreds of people to rally on Wednesday night. 

"The recent conflicts prove that Hong Kong society is not mature enough for democracy. If the reform isn't passed, the government can instead devote more time and energy to improving the current legal system," said Fu, citing the national security law to address the rise of separatism in the city.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said Tuesday that Hong Kong issues are China's internal affairs, and the government hopes the vote on the region's political reform will proceed smoothly. "Some people try to disrupt this process through destructive activities, it does not meet Hong Kong people's interests," he told a regular press briefing in Beijing.

Fan Lingzhi contributed to this report 

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