Middleburgh Votes Again
The Olympics has overshadowed campaigning for the upcoming Legco elections in Hong Kong on September 7. I am still researching the candidates (and more importantly the issues) in order to cast an informed vote (being a conscientious voter like what I am!)
since I was granted permanent residence status there have been four notable elections in Hong kong:
- Local District Elections (broadly equivalent to a UK Local Government election - I voted)
- Chief Executive Election (The CE was elected by an electoral college of alleged “worthies” - the HK common man on the #7 tram and I were not enfranchised)
- National People’s Congress (Deputies were elected by the the Electoral College -the HK common man again was not enfranchised and neither was I .. but then I am not a Chinese citizen.
- Hong Kong Island Legco By Election aka the Battle of the Dragon Ladies - I voted!
once you cut through the hype you realise that the upcoming Legco election is basically for the provincial legislature, something like a Landtag in Germany or US state legislature like California, but with a Chinese flavour i.e. the one country, two systems model applies only to the Special Autonomous Regions of Macau and HK unlike other Chinese autonomous regions such as Tibet, Xinjiang, (and Taiwan.) In HK there are 60 seats up for grabs: 30 are associated with geographic constituencies, and 30 reserved for functional constituencies.
If you are a recognised member of one of the "professional groups" ie a doctor registered with the HK medical Council etc, and a registered voter for a geographic constituency, you may be entitled to a second vote in a functional constituency e.g the Medical Functional Constituency.
Whilst there is an equivalence in number of seats ie 30 functional/30 geographic , there are only 230K functional constituency voters as compared to 3.37M geographic constituency voters in HK ie 1 functional vote= 15 geographic votes (hardly consistent with the concept of 1 man 1 vote). Personally I find the whole concept of having a such a second vote elitist and reactionary.
it could be argued that a functional voter given a choice between a pro beijing candidate and a democrat is free to exercise his vote in favour of the best candidate for territory and functional constituency. It has been suggested however that professionals (particularly those who work with partners on mainland) may be more at risk of being "influenced" than the common man and/or the impact would be greater. Whether there is truth in this or not I don't know but a candidate for a geographic constituency needs a deposit of50K HK$ and a minimum of 100 nominations, whereas a functional constituency candidate only needs 25K HK$ and a minimum of 10 nominations. refeerence
In practical terms it would be much easier to field a candidate in a functional constituency (than a geographic constituency) to split votes to ensure that the "right" candidate is elected. (in this contest right depends on whether you are pro democrat or pro Beijing) Of course any group could try this. It would be no more difficult than arranging a "perfect" firework display.
Although there are 30 geographic seats being contested, there are only 5 electoral “districts” . HK island where I live will return 6 legislators to Legco who will be elected “ proportionally” based on the number of votes cast for "lists" There are a total of x candidates standing on 10 lists. A voter has a single vote and votes for a list containing the candidate/candidates he prefers. Because this system is nothing like the UK, Irish or Australian voting systems I had to look up the legislation
to understand how the maths works. It is I believe similar to the Israeli system.
The outgoing incumbents for HK Island are
- Martin Lee(DEMOCRAT) - On 27 March 2008 he announced that he had decided not to seek reelection in September
- Yeung Sum (DEMOCRAT) Standing for reelection
- Choy So Yuk (BEIJING) Standing for reelection
- Audrey Eu (DEMOCRAT). She personally handed me her “flier’ the other night – she projects a charismatic persona – not unlike that of Charles Haughey (former Taisoach) – I am not sure if that is good or bad ??
- Anson Chan.(BEIJING) Elected through by election (for 1 seat) in 2007 defeating Regina Ip. She has decided not to seek reelection and I have just realized that she probably only stood in 2007 to deny Regina a seat. This time around (because there are 6 seats) it is inevitable that Regina is going to be elected irrespective of whether she (Anson) stands.
- Rita Fan (BEIJING). Is now on the standing committee of the NPCC and is also not standing for local reelection.
The following are the candidates who are standing for office ( by list)
- Liberal Party(BEIJING - 3 candidates) I haven't seen a flier from them yet and their website english pages have not been recently updated - BIG TURN OFF - (sales rule 1: is not that the other guy beat you, it's because YOU lost !!)
- Cyd Ho (DEMOCRAT - 1 Candidate) Cyd, who was running on the same list as Audrey Eu in 2004 Legco elections, allegedly was a victim of the way “maths” worked. This time she is on her own list clearly judging that it offers her the best chance of winning a seat -- we shall see !! Her policies are outlined on her websiteShe is member of the Civic-Act-Up group.
- Democratic Party (DEMOCRAT -3 candidates) Since Martin is stepping down the leader of the party is now in pole position. They have two websites expanding on their political platform. There and here
- League of Social Democrats (DEMOCRAT 1 candidate) Bull - arguably an unfortunate name. In a Chinese context it is associated with strength, virility etc but for a politician the slogan "Vote for Bull" perhaps could be a negative .. "His policies are all BULL" etc. On The positive side this is Long Hair's party. Strictly speaking it’s a worker’s Trotskyite party and under normal circumstances it would not be labeled “democratic” however it adds colour to the HK political landscape and regularly challenges political dogma (and Beijing). If you voted for The “Official Moster Raving Loony Party" in the UK (which I never did) you might have a natural affinity here. The party's official web site is here
- Democratic Alliance (BEIJING -6 candidates)
Some people take offence at the fact that this party calls itself "democratic" - sour grapes !! (although it is potentially confusing!!). My partner observed that unlike some of the other parties fliers, the graphics used by the DAB project a youthful laid back image of the candidates – men (and women) of the people – just like “you and me”. This may be so but last Sunday afternoon three policemen were having none of it when they “moved on” a group of DAB campaigners who had set up a pitch just up the road from a bunch of Regina Ips campaigners ( I wouldn't be suprised if the latter had called the police !!) When I asked the DAB team for a flier , (as the were packing up like illegal hawkers being chased away by hawker control) they were so grateful (they either thought I didn't understand how democratic they allegedly are, or they felt that my dress code was appropriately supportive) The police office looked on benignly - well they could hardly interfere with a voter seeking information about a parties election platform and I didn't look as if I was going to start an unauthorised anti-olympic demonstation. DAB has two websites one election specific and the other general.
- Siu Man Wa (INDEPENDENT 1 candidate). haven't seen a flier. Website is in chinese and I have yet to translate it and read in details but my impression is that we have an idealist standing for office - What i can't understand is where she got the deposit money from and the nominations ??
- Lo Wing Lok (INDEPENDENT - 1 candidate) The oter night he made a point of giving me his English version flier. Pity about his
website the tile banner takes too long to load - mind you the same can be said her. Interesting reading his material - why didn't he stand for the medical functional constituency ?? Did he, as a man of principle decide to eshew the 'questionable' path to office and rely on the comman man and universla sufferage or was it that he couldn't get enough nominations within the functional constituency - whats the real story here ??
- Civic party(DEMOCRAT - 3 candidates) Audrey EU's Crew !! Their platform is laid out here
- Change for Better (BEIJING -4 candidates)
Regina Ips crew – She claims to be a born again democrat !! unfortunately the stigma associated with the failed ARTICLE 23 legislation just won’t go away. The other morning she and her team were stationed at a nearby zebra crossing, on the Island in the middle, greeting passerby’s as they crossed. She had assumed a regal posture (not as good as the statue of Queen Victoria in the park of the same name) and she was resisting the temptation to give a “corgi” wave although it would have been totally in step with her body language.Their website is here For what its worth there are a number of posters of her about the place and I am having difficulty restraining myself from embellishing her with an adolf hitler moustache – it ‘s so tempting!!
- Lai Chi-Keong (INDEPENDENT - 1 candidate)
Last night Regie's team were back (3rd time at least !! - don't you just love them !!). A lone campaigner on behalf of Lai Chi Keong was parked on the other side of the road in a “Del Boy “ van (actually looked like an old ford transit) with a sound system booming out a counter message. – He at least could drive round the block if the police turned up. His web site is here
Not suprisingly most of the candidates are mouthing similar and safe messages about the standard topics: health , education jobs; tax etc so before September 7, I am going to have to find some real differentiators that matter to me. I could for example apply the Cheri Blair Test; This works by asking the candidates to sing a popular karyoke song. You assess their political competence based on whether they have the balls to play; how badly they sing and/or how effective they are at lipsyncing.