Tag Archives: Legislative Council

Hong Kong Voters Adjust To The New Order

The Legislative Council complex in Hong Kong. Photo credit: Hong Kong government

THE OUTCOME OF the elections to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (Legco) was the sweeping victory for pro-Beijing candidates expected, given the vote was conducted under new rules that effectively barred opposition candidates.

The election had been delayed by a year, purportedly on Covid-19-related public health grounds, but it gave the government the time to restructure the elections to provide an iron-clad pro-Beijing majority.

Total Legco seats increased to 90 from 70, but the number directly elected by voters was reduced to 20 from 35, so to barely one-fifth from one-half. Forty seats are filled by a pro-Beijing and pro-business electoral college drawn from the city’s establishment. Trade and profession-based functional business constituencies elect the remaining 35. Candidates are vetted for their loyalty to Beijing (‘patriotism’).

It was also made illegal to incite people not to vote or cast an invalid vote, punishable by a three-year jail sentence.

Voter intuition was largely to stay away from the polls. Turnout was a record low, 30.2%, down from 58.3% in 2016.

Before the elections, chief executive Carrie Lam said the expected low turnout would signify Hong Kongers’ satisfaction with the government as they had no reason to register protest votes, implicitly suggesting that authorities think of voting as a confrontational act.

Many, likely, most Hong Kongers do not share that view but are resigned to the city’s new political order rather than mobilising to push back against it. If the elections confirm one thing, it is that organised opposition to the government has been broken.

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A Bleak Day In Hong Kong

Screenshot of LegCo press release about the dismissal of four lawmakers following NPC Standing Committee granting Hong Kong government new powers.

THERE IS LITTLE positive to say about the mass resignation by opposition lawmakers from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo).

This followed the city’s government sacking four Legco members using the powers newly given to it by the NPC Standing Committee in Beijing to directly dismiss lawmakers whom it deems to have promoted the city’s independence or foreign interference in its affairs.

If the government had hoped to replace the more outspoken elements of the opposition with moderates, it would have been rapidly disabused of the idea by the resignations of all of the remaining 15 opposition lawmakers, who make up a large minority, in protest.

This further diminishes the already shrunken popular standing of LegCo, whose elections due in September were postponed for a year, nominally because of the Covid-19 pandemic but more likely because the opposition was likely to win a majority in the wake of the introduction of the new National Security Law.

All four of the dismissed legislators — Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Kwok Ka-ki and Dennis Kwok of the Civic Party and Kenneth Leung of the Professionals Guild — had already been disqualified from running in the next election. This was the purported basis on which they could not continue to serve in the extended LegCo session.

Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam reportedly said that there would be no by-elections to fill the vacancies as the postponed elections were only nine months away.

The chances of popular protest will increase, but any such expression of discontent will be repressed by legal and police action.

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