CJFE supports the Legislative Council of Hong Kong’s recent rejection of a Beijing-backed electoral reform proposal that would have required citizens of the special administrative region to elect their chief executive from a list of three candidates pre-selected by the mainland government. In rejecting this proposal, the council has demonstrated it has heard the voice of civil society activists and concerned citizens, who have repeatedly spoken out and demonstrated against the proposal since September 2014.
The demonstrations, which came to be known as the “Umbrella Revolution” and began on September 26, were a clear message from thousands in Hong Kong that they would not be satisfied by anything but a “genuine choice [and] a real election." The fact that pro-democracy lawmakers cast their vote with these demonstrations in mind appears to be a positive development on the path of achieving independent, free and fair elections in the territory.
While this is an important victory for popular demonstrations in Hong Kong, there is still a long way to go in terms of protecting free expression and press freedom in the region; a report by the Hong Kong Journalists Association released this spring revealed that 90% of journalist respondents believed that press freedom had worsened in the past year.
CJFE urges the Legislative Council of Hong Kong to remain responsive to civil society in the wake of the proposal’s rejection, and to maintain a dialogue that will result in an enhanced democratic process for the people of Hong Kong. We also urge the Council to collaborate with other government actors to develop policy proposals to address the reduced confidence in protections for freedom of expression and press freedom in Hong Kong.
CC: The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs;
Mr. James Ian Burchett, Consul General of Canada in Hong Kong and Macao