The Basic Law does not stipulate that the city’s electoral system must meet international norms, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said yesterday, in remarks some scholars saw as a tactic to justify a possible crackdown on Occupy Central. Speaking as the National People’s Congress Standing Committee met in Beijing to discuss a framework for reform ahead of the city’s first democratic chief executive election in 2017, Leung said: “The Basic Law simply does not state the term ‘international standards’.” He made the remarks in reference to the demands of the Occupy movement, which has threatened to rally volunteers to block streets in the heart of the city if Beijing fails to allow a model for universal suffrage that conforms with accepted international standards.
Leung said Hong Kong was a unique society in many ways – including granting foreign permanent residents the right to vote. “If the election in 2017 must fulfil international standards, should we deprive foreigners who are among the 5 million qualified voters … of the right to universal suffrage?” he asked.
In fact, the international situation varies: some countries, such as New Zealand, do allow non-citizens with permanent residency to vote. Most countries, including the United States, strictly limit voting to citizens.