The Legislative Council has passed the Resolution on political reform on June 23 for the addition of 100 seats to each of the Sectors in the Election Committee ( the EC ) which will elect the Chief Executive in 2012 and for the addition of 5 seats to the Geographical Constituencies and 5 District-Council based seats to the Functional Constituencies in the Legislative Council. The HKSAR Government has indicated that it will initiate the local legislative process before the end of this year to provide for these additional seats and how they will be returned.
The Civic Party considers that the local legislative process should not be perceived as a “technical amendment” which makes no substantive change to the status quo. Rather, it should act as an opportunity for Hong Kong to make further steps within the autonomy of the HKSAR towards the realization of genuine universal suffrage. Hence, the Civic Party proposes the following overriding objective for the realization of the local legislation regarding political reform: “Dilute political privilege immediately, paving the path for the full abolition of functional constituencies.”
Based on the above objective, the Civic Party suggests the following four principles, as the main basis for local legislation:
1. The Election of the Election Committee for the Selection of the Chief Executive: “Increase Coverage, Reduce monopoly”
The Election Committee currently has four Sectors. The number of seats for each Sector is to be increased from 200 to 300. A feasible means for diluting the privilege is to distribute new seats to those having no seats currently, so that more people from different interest groups currently unrepresented could elect their representatives onto the EC. For those holding corporate or organizational votes, they should only be allowed to vote if they have obtained prior authorization of voting intent in shareholders’ meetings or by shareholder resolutions.
For example: In the First Sector which is Industrial, Commercial and Financial, it could include the members of SME associations and chambers of commerce; the Second Sector (The Professions) could include actuarial scientists, financial analysts, fund managers, research, insurance, advertising and human resources and other professionals. The Third Sector can be expanded to environmental groups, cultural arts organizations and members of the charitable groups.
If we expand the electoral base of the First to Third sector from the current “designated voters”, to those who are classified to be subordinated to that sector, or those who are working under that sector, this would increase the number of qualified voters voting for the 1 200 Election Committee members to 2.5 million people, increasing by twelve times the current registered voters of the Election Committee, which stands at approximately 230 000.
In the Fourth Sector, the additional 100 seats should all be allocated to elected District Councillors, but not to Heung Yee Kuk or CPCCC members who already have existing seats.
2) The New Functional Constituency of the Legislative Council: “Enhance Participation, Relax Eligibility criteria”
For the additional five seats in the District Council functional constituency, the basis for the nomination right and the right to be elected has yet to be defined. By reference to the current rules for functional constituencies where the electorate consists solely of natural persons, all who are qualified to be voters in the constituency are also entitled to nominate candidates and to stand as candidates. The new functional constituencies should not be an exception. Any discrimination for more than 3.1 million voters in that constituency which deprives them of the rights which other functional constituency voters have must be justified. Otherwise, those who opt to be registered as voters in the new FCs must be entitled to nominate and to stand as candidates.
The avoidance of monopolization shall be a key yardstick for the determination of the arrangements in terms of the mapping of the electoral boundaries, the method of election, and the maximum for election expenses. This is to ensure a level playing field for every political party and every individual to compete on an equal basis and to have an equal chance to win during the election. In terms of the demarcation of the electoral districts, if the recommendation of some large political parties to make Hong Kong into one single large constituency is followed, the effect will be to create a number of “super legislators”, enabling these members to claim to be more representative than the directly elected legislators in geographical constituencies and this will only increase the resistance to the final abolition of functional constituencies.
In view of this, the preferred method is to divide the territory into five districts with each district electing one seat.
In terms of the nomination arrangements, the "voter nomination mechanism" may be adopted, that is, the qualified voters of the District Council functional constituency of a particular district concerned should be entitled to nominate the candidates. As for the right to stand as a candidate, two proposals could be considered: The first one is that the right to stand for the election should be confined to elected District Council members ( but the restriction would need to be fully justified by the government ); the second option is to allow all eligible voters in the District Council functional constituency of a particular district concerned to be eligible to stand as a candidate.
In 2016, the 5 seats in the District Council functional constituency must all be turned into geographical constituency directly elected seats.
3) The “traditional” Functional Constituencies of the Legislative Council “Merger of Functional Constituencies reducing the power of vested interests”
A substantial overhaul has to be conducted on the 30 “traditional” functional constituencies which shall be abolished for elections in 2020. The objectives for reform in 2012 are to reduce the power of vested interests and to curtail their purpose of the protection of privilege. At the same time, it could lower the harmful effects of small circle elections to the general public.
The current 28 functional constituencies could be merged into six main categories in 2012 with approximately five seats in each of the sectors. For those holding corporate or organizational votes, they should only be allowed to vote if they have obtained prior authorization of voting intent in shareholders’ meetings or by shareholder resolutions.. For example: Commercial (1), Commercial (2), Industrial (1), Industrial (2), and Import and Export sectors can be merged into one sector.
A "functional constituency self-abolition mechanism" should be implemented from 2012 onwards. For any FC where one or more candidates have stood on the basis of abolition of their FC seat in their platform and such candidate gets elected, their seat will be abolished first in the 2016 Election and the seat given to geographical constituency for direct election by the general electorate. But in any event, in the 6 merged functional constituencies, no merged sector will have more than three seats. If the number of “self-abolition” functional constituencies is not sufficient in any one of the merged sectors, the functional constituencies with the least number of voters will be the ones to be abolished in priority. Hence, there would not be more than 18 functional constituencies in 2016. All the seats which are self-abolished or abolished under the mechanism for merged FCs would be returned through the geographical constituencies for direct election by the general electorate.
Accompanying the above change, by 2016, the split voting mechanism in the Legislative Council must be abolished.
The functional constituencies should be abolished in full by 2020, by which all seats shall be directly elected by the general electorate. By that time, there may be a need to increase the total number of seats due to increasing workload. The precise method of direct election and the number of seats should be subjects for further consideration.
4) The Appointed Seats in the District Councils: "Stop Appointment Now; Abolish the Appointment system"
The Chief Executive should cease the appointment of District Councillors with immediate effect, even though there are vacancies in the future for the appointed seats. The Government should remove the right of the Chief Executive in the nomination of District Council members, and ensure that the appointment system of the District Council will be abolished once and for all before the 2011 election.
For the proposed idea from the Civic Party regarding the road map for universal suffrage for the Legislative Council, please refer to the diagram below.
Following the abovementioned principles, the Civic Party would proactively engage in dialogues with the civil society in the coming two months, and would take in the views of various NGOs with a view to advancing the New Democracy Movement, the objective of which is to implement genuine universal suffrage as soon as possible, and to abolish functional constituencies.
＃Abolition of the “Split Voting” Mechanism