Beijing-loyalist Maria Tam says the right to be elected is not universal.
So says the South China Morning Post today.
Imagine if the last US election had given voters a right to choose only between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton excluded from aspiring to the presidency. That is effectively the scenario now being proposed for Hong Kong by the small clique of Beijing loyalists that has undue influence in such matters. Their idea is that we will all have an equal vote for who runs Hong Kong, but anyone who might actually stand up for Hong Kong's rights instead of kowtowing to the central government will be unable to run for Chief Executive.
It is of course farcical to claim this as any sort of democracy - but then Maria Tam, Rita Fan and the other Hong Kongers who sit on the NPC and NPPCC are not interested in democracy. Their main discernible talent has been worming themselves to the top of a system where a small self-appointed elite claims to represent Hong Kong with no popular mandate whatever - first under British rule, and then as sudden patriots, under Beijing rule after 1997..
If it were not so serious, the last NPPCC "election" would have been quite amusing. China declared that members would be required to display high moral standards, then demonstrated their sincerity by giving Henry Tang - failed CE candidate, self-confessed adulterer and owner of an illegal basement below his house three times the size of the average Hong Kong family's total living space - a seat.
As Hong Kong people have grown in political awareness and self-confidence, elements of democracy have gradually chipped away at this old cozy system, but those who benefit from it are not willing to lose their influence without a struggle. The problem is that Beijing actually listens to these people and takes their advice on Hong Kong matters as if they were representative of anything more than their own self-interest - which probably helps account for its gross misreading of the public mood on such matters as Article 23 and "National and Moral Education" (the coupling of the two is a dead giveaway - the subtext being "if you don't love the nation [as we define it] you are an immoral person").
If the central government understood that in a democracy, an opponent is not automatically an enemy, they might talk to articulate moderate democrats (Audrey Eu would be a good choice, for example) to get a better understanding of Hong Kong, instead of just being told what they want to hear. Until then we will have to suffer mad old bats selling out the rights we are supposed to enjoy under the Basic Law.