8 September 2008, Monday /
Hong Kong residents voted to elect a new legislature on Sunday, with the bruised democratic camp trying to maintain its watchdog legislative role against resurgent pro-Beijing rivals.
At stake is the pro-democracy camp's control of one third of the legislature, without which Hong Kong's reformists would lose crucial influence over political reforms aimed at creating a model of universal suffrage by 2017, with Beijing's consent. Since Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997 amid promises of a high degree of autonomy, the Democrats have pressured Beijing's Communist leaders to allow direct polls as promised in the city's mini-constitution, or Basic Law. Beijing recently acquiesced, ruling in December to allow universal suffrage in 2017 at the earliest. But the pan-democrats fear China will propose a watered down version with electoral rules stacked against pro-democracy candidates. "It's a very dangerous moment," said activist and ex-lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung who is seeking re-election. Leung said the democrats' could be hurt by their tendency to promote lofty democratic ideals over livelihood concerns, with Hong Kong's economy slowing down quickly. Hong Kong Reuters