Hongkongers have only themselves to blame for failing to carry out political reforms over the past two decades, former secretary for justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie says.
The electoral changes proposed by the central government do not equal "a great leap backward" for Hong Kong's democracy, and now is the time to get back on the right track, she said.
Some of the proposed changes in Beijing on Thursday include adjusting the size, composition and formation of Hong Kong's election committee that selects the chief executive. The committee's function would also be expanded to electing and nominating candidates for the Legislative Council.
Speaking on a radio program yesterday, Leung also said members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference may take the new seats in Hong Kong's reformed election committee, as they can help ensure the principle of "patriots ruling Hong Kong."
She said the central government decided to take charge after unrest rocked Hong Kong and foreign countries used the city to attack China.
Beijing has always wanted Hong Kong's democracy to move forward and included universal suffrage when drafting the Basic Law, she said.
Leung said the reforms were not targeted at the pro-democracy camp, but those who undermine the interests of the central government and the SAR.
The electoral reforms did not violate the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, as the city's mini-constitution stipulated that Hong Kong's political reform needed to be progressively developed according to the actual situation.
Meanwhile, former Legco president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai insisted the "systems" in the one country, two systems principle refer to the economic systems and not the political system.
Therefore, political reform requires approval from the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
Fan said Hong Kong's current electoral system no longer works and has deviated from the intent of the Basic Law and so it was necessary to bring it back to its original intent.
She said Hong Kong is now backed into a corner where there is no choice but to reform the electoral system for the sake of both Hong Kong and China.
Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying expected electoral reforms to take at least a year.
He said the government can tell whether a person is patriotic by eliminating non-patriots - banning "those who harm Hong Kong or the country's interests, those who go to the United States" or cause trouble in Legco.
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