Hong Kong chief executive invites opponent to television debate

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Audrey Eu talking in the City Forum

Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang has invited Audrey Eu, the head of the Civic Party, to a televison debate on the 2009 reform package. The invitation follows the recent so-called Five Constituencies Referendum which called for universal suffrage and the abolition of the functional constituencies.

Tsang says he is glad that Eu has accepted the invitation, and the debate will air on the seventeenth of June. However, Eu has said that Tsang should not use this debate as an excuse to avoid facing the public's concerns.

The action sparked critism from 'less extreme' pan-democratic political parties, such as the Democratic Party and other members of the Alliance for Universal Suffrage, who did not participate in the by-elections. Szeto Wah is worried that such an action would divide the pan-democrats. Martin Lee and Albert Ho have both denied that the television conference will have such an effect. Lee believes that Eu was a good choice as Ho is currently trying to compromise with the central government and was thus a less suitable candidate. Ho is also happy that Eu was invited. However, Rita Fan, who supports the television conference, said she "sympathised" with Ho for not being able to participate.

Only Eu and Tsang will participate in the conference, which caused a huge uproar in the political circles of Hong Kong. Eu is annoyed that public is unable to ask questions during the debate. Tsang replied that the public could participate by watching the television, while government representatives explained that this was because determining the eligibility of a person's entry was difficult, and it was easier for the two to debate fluently without the public asking questions. Eu has already inquired the public's opinion through Facebook. Lee Cheuk-yan scoffed, "[i]f that is the case, does that mean that everyone in the world can participate in the football matches by watching the World Cup?" Fan said such participation was "passive" and "one-sided" as the public was not allowed to ask questions during the conference.


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