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LSS Newsletter #2

March 2014

LSS Newsletter #2

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; LSS Newsletter #2

March 2014

Content Page


Page Numbers

The Past Political System


The Current Political System


Analysis of the Current Political System


Social Discontent in Hong Kong


Public Response


Different Proposals for Constitutional Reforms


Overseas Examples


Quiz Time



; LSS Newsletter #2

March 2014

The Past Political System

Hong Kong was under British rule from 1842-1997. British government gave power to the Governor, as the head of the Hong Kong government and was given high autonomy. Executive-led British based its rule in Hong Kong on 3 documents. 1. Letters Patent The formal legal basis of the office of Governor and Commander-in-Chief, the Executive Council (ExCo), and the Legislative Council(LegCo). 2. Royal Instructions Formal instructions e.g. how the ExCo and LegCo were to be constituted, how legislation was to be framed. 3. Colonial Regulations Executive instructions from the British government to the Governor.

Governor The Governor had the highest power in administrating Hong Kong. He was appointed by the British government. The following were some of the important powers and functions exercised by the Governor: 1. Legislative and Executive power – to make and enact laws 2. Appointment power – to appoint ExCo members and other officials 3. Authority to grant amnesty 4. Chairman of the ExCo

By Joanne Tsang


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March 2014

The Current Political System—Chief Executive The Chief Executive (CE) is the head of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) after the resumption of Hong Kong’s sovereignty to China. The following flow chart illustrates the selection method of the CE in the 2012 election:

According to Article 48 of the Basic Law, the CE shall exercise the following powers and functions: • To lead the government of the Region; • To be responsible for the implementation of the Basic Law and other laws which, in accordance with the Basic Law, apply in the HKSAR; • To sign bills passed by the LegCo and to promulgate laws; • To sign budgets passed by the LegCo and report the budgets and final accounts to the Central People's Government for the record

By Natalie Fung


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March 2014

The Current Political System—Legislative Council According to the 2012 election, the Legislative Council (LegCo) consists of 70 seats equally elected by geographical (GCs) and functional constituencies (FCs). How is the LegCo formed? 1) Nomination After fulfilling the requirements stipulated in the law such as being 21 years old or above as well as a permanent Hong Kong citizen, a person can be nominated as a candidate of legislator. 2) Elections Normal registered voters can cast votes for legislators through direct geographical elections. For the remaining seats, members are only chosen by a handful of FCs (226,591 voters as of 2012 statistics). 3) Allocation of seats To allocate members chosen by FCs and GCs, the Largest Remainder Method is used with Hare Quota. For instance, if 100,000 people choose 10 seats in the LegCo and the Hare Quota is 100,000/10=10,000. Each seat requires 10,000 votes. The remaining votes will not be counted for a seat. 4) Operation of LegCo Separate Vote Count /Split Vote Mechanism “The passage of motions, bills or amendments to government bills introduced by individual members of the LegCo shall require a simple majority vote of each of the two groups of members present: members in FCs and those in GCs…” Bills of motions suggested by individual members in the LegCo require a majority (over half) vote of each of the two groups of members i.e. members elected by FCs and GCs.

By Eunice Liu


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March 2014

Analysis of the Current Political System—Chief Executive (CE) Aspects

Pros Rigorous Election Threshold:

Election Threshold

A candidate must obtain over 50% (601 votes) votes from the Election Committee in order to become the CE Rationale: Increase the legitimacy of the CE

Participation Criteria

Stringent Election Criteria: Candidates must not have an occupation (Must only focus on CE campaigns) Rationale: Avoid misuse of power. Candidates must be Hong Kong permanent residents aged 40 or above Rationale: Maturity and experience + Sense of belonging to Hong Kong

Term Office

of The CE can only continue his/her term of office for once

Political Participation

Rationale: Ensure alteration of power on a regular basis (no authoritarian rule) + Avoid “dictatorship” of only one ruler Candidates cannot have political affiliation Rationale: Not bound by any political parties + Encourage multi-party collaboration

Aspects Fairness

Cons Undemocratic Election: Election Committee is only made up of 1,200 members (1,044 members elected from 35 subsectors + 60 members nominated by the religious subsector and the remaining are 96 ex-officio members) Problem: Not all citizens can elect the CEàSmall Circle Election (Lack of representativeness / public mandate)

By Natalie Fung


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March 2014

Analysis of  the  Current  Political  System—Legislative   Council  (LegCo)   Functional  constituencies  (FCs)   Pros  


✓Professionals are  required  when  there  are   ✗Councilors   may   only   protect   their   sectoral   bills  concerning  a  specialised  fields   well   beingàoverlooking   /   sacrificing   the   interests  of  the  society  at  large         ✓Ensure   that   different   voices   from   various   ✗Many   seats   of   the   FCs   are   automatically   sectors   can   be   heardàEnsure   balanced   elected/uncontested     participation   of   different   sectors   and   hence     increase  the  representativeness  of  LegCo      

✗The FC  lacks  representativeness  

No. of  registered  electors  in  certain  sectors  in  the  LegCo  in  2012   Functional  Constituency   Heung  Yee  Kuk   Education  

No. of  Registered  Electors   145   91,621  


The number   of   electors   in   the   education   sector   is   632   times   larger   than   that   of   Heung   Yee   Kuk.   However,   the   number   of   FC   seats   allocated   to   both   sectors   is   exactly   the   same.   That   means   the   education  sector  is  underrepresented  while  the  Heung  Yee  Kuk  sector  is  overrepresented  in  the  LegCo.   In   another   words,   Heung   Yee   Kuk   is   being   granted   the   privilege   to   exercise   disproportionate   power   to   influence   voting   outcome   in   the   LegCo.   We   can   understand   why   there   is   criticism   saying   that   the   minority  is  given  too  much  power  in  the  LegCo  by  looking  at  the  above  chart.    

Separate Vote  Count  Mechanism   Controversial  bills  and  motions  are  often  vetoed  under  this  mechanism.  This  is  because  motions  and   bills  need  to  obtain  half  or  above  votes  from  each  of  the  two  constituencies—GCs  and  FCs.    Examples   include   motion   on   “The   4   June   Incident”   and   legislation   of   standard   working   hours.   Most   of   these   motions   are   passed   in   the   GCs,   in   which   relatively   more   seats   are   taken   by   pan-­‐democrats.   The   motions  are,  however,  vetoed  by  the  domination  of  pro-­‐establishment  camp  in  the  FCs.    

By William Wong


; LSS Newsletter #2

March 2014

Social Discontent in Hong Kong According to the *Gallup report published in 2013, the Well-being Index of Hong Kong people ranked 81 among 155 countries and regions, which does not commensurate with Hong Kong's affluence.

Why are Hong Kong people not happy? Such social discontent is probably created because of the ineffectiveness of the government in dealing with social problems in Hong Kong. Now, let us take a look at some daily life examples, to figure out the problems that Hong Kong people are facing. Food and daily necessities

There are more and more big chain operators appearing in Hong Kong, while the number of ‘Small and Medium Enterprises’ are (SMEs) reduced due to the rapid increase of rent. 1. As chained supermarkets or shops monopolise the supply of goods like vegetables and other food, people have no choice but to opt for the chain stores. Mini grocery stores cannot afford the rising cost of goods and decreasing number of customers, hence more and more of them close down. 2. Ng Fung Hong Limited ( 五 豐 行 ) is a Chinese-affiliated company of mainland importing fresh and frozen food from Mainland to Hong Kong. Many imported food items such as pork and beef, are handled through NFH, and is alleged to largely dominate the Hong Kong market. 3. After the listing of The Link (領匯), it renovates properties and increases rents heavily for stores originally owned by the Housing Authority so as to attract capable rentors for high rent (e.g. chained enterprises) and hence increase income. This forces small stores to close down due to their inabilities to afford high rents.

*Gallup Inc. is a research-based, global performance-management consulting company

renowned for its public polls.


; LSS Newsletter #2

Housing supply

March 2014 Why? Hong Kong has very limited land for residential use and the demand for housing is high due to increasing population. Yet, as perceived by many people, the government is not committed to increase affordability housing for Hong Kong people drastically so as to protect the interests of property developers in Hong Kong. How is life of Hong Kong people affected? Hong Kong people, especially those middle-low to middle-income group people, who are not qualified to apply for Public Rental Housing (PRH) or subsidised home ownership through the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) are forced to pay high rent for renting private flats because not all of them can afford the mortgage for purchasing their own properties. Due to the shortage of housing supply, residential rents are extremely costly in Hong Kong who obtains the third highest average rent globally, according to a recent survey. Moreover, as suggested by most banks in Hong Kong, it is not advisable to spend over 40% monthly income on housing expenditure. However, most Hong Kongers do spend 40% or even more in monthly installment or rental fee for residential flats. For those grassroots, since the waiting time for PRH application is rather long, with an average waiting time of 2.7 years as claimed by the government but unofficial statistics show that many applicants have to wait for about 3-8 years in many cases, many of them have to rent subdivided flats. Many of them live in cramped conditions with poor sanitation and yet, the rental fee is costly. To rent a 50 sq. ft. subdivided flat, for instance, the average monthly rental fee is HK$1,500.


Why? Government has developed new towns such as Tung Chung and Tsuen Wan. People who live there need to travel a long distance to their working place. Moreover, as prevalent transportation modes like MTRas well as KCR buses have turned from a governmentowned enterprises to public entities, they operate under the Fare Adjustment Mechanism (FAM) which allows both addition as well as reduction of transport fares. However, as inflation has been prominent in Hong Kong for the past few years, the transport companies increase their fares despite receiving tremendous revenue annually. How is Hong Kong people’s life affected? The transport fare is relatively high in Hong Kong. With reference to a recent investigation, most people consider their average transportation spending much higher than what they can afford. Public transport such as MTR, bus and taxi increased their fare rapidly in the past few years. This has created a huge burden for Hong Kong people. By Tirzah Tam 9

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March 2014

Public Response We have already delineated some existing problems of the Hong Kong Government and political system in the previous sections. The unsatisfactory performance of the government and poor development in policy-making has sparked public debates and numerous demonstrations. We will now be looking at public outcries and reactions towards their discontentment. Occupy Central( 佔 領 中 環 ) Those people who have been fighting for further democratisation in Hong Kong feel frustrated about the latest development. Some of them launched the Occupy Central Movement in a hope of engaging the public to discuss what Hong Kong people can do collectively in our constitutional development. The following are some key facts related to the movement. What? Proposed civil disobedience protest which would take place in Central, Hong Kong in July 2014 for universal suffrage. Why? To mobilise the masses in order to fight for democratic elections for the Chief Executive in 2017 as promised by the Central Government. How? Carried out in 4 main steps: July 2013: Oath-taking days - solemn ceremonies for participants to declare their commitment to the plan Early 2014: A deliberation day (D-Day)- 10,000 participants divided into groups to discuss and vote on ideas for political reform April/May 2014: Citizens' authorisation - A citywide civil referendum, or a by-election triggered by the resignation of a lawmaker July 2014: If the government fails to put forth a genuine reform package, Occupy Central will take place in the coming July - 10,000 participants will block the roads in Central to pressurise Beijing for true democracy Who?

Tai Yiu-ting, Associate Professor of Law at HKU

Chu Yiu-ming, Reverend

Chan Kin-man, Associate Professor for Civil Society Studies at CUHK


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March 2014

Lufsig and other Anti-Government Products “Lufsig” (a stuffed toy sold at IKEA) is a symbol of discontent and disgust towards to the HKSAR Government. The huge demand of “Lufsig” unveils the abundance of anti-government citizens. There are multifarious tailor-made photos and products making fun of Mr. Leung Chun-ying, the current CE. This shows that Hong Kong people relieve their stress and disappointment through creating hilarious and sarcastic goods.

Food for Thought: •

Why are there increasing number of anti-government products created recently?

Who would most probably support or oppose the Occupy Central Movement? Why?

Some people believe that the slow pace of democratization is the main reasons contributing to the mounting discontent among Hong Kong people. How far do you agree with this view?

By Tiger Yip


; LSS Newsletter #2

March 2014

Possible explanations (not exhaustive) are listed below: (1) Public distrust in the government According to a research done by the University of Hong Kong (released on 28 Jan 2014), respondents generally gave Mr. Leung a score 47 (out of 100) based on his performance, compared to 61 for Mr. Donald Tsang Yam-keun, the former CE, over the same period of their month of service. Also, almost 50% of the respondents revealed that they felt quite or very negative towards the overall performance of the HKSAR Government. The above show that Hong Kong citizens are highly dissatisfied with the government. (Want to know more? Look up

Food for Thought Mr. Peter Lee Ka-Kit, the standing committee member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, claimed that HKU is manipulating public opinion to help the pan-democrats and he questioned about the methodology used in the survey. To what extent do you agree with Mr. Lee’s viewpoint on the opinion poll program of the HKU?


Hardships in life

Having 0.537 as the Gini Coefficient of Hong Kong (2011), the wealth disparity is seriously large. The current inflation rate is about 4.3% and unemployment rate is 3.2%, which also create hard lives for Hong Kong citizens. Facing all these difficulties and pressure, there are increasing number of demonstrations (with a frequency of 19 per day) in Hong Kong.


; LSS Newsletter #2

March 2014

Different Proposals for Constitutional Reform According to the Basic Law and 2004 National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) Interpretation, in order to implement constitutional reforms regarding the CE as well as the LegCo in Hong Kong, a “Five-step Process” has to be undergone. The following is a flow chart illustrating the steps involved:

In accordance to the Basic Law, four key principles should be adopted in selecting the CE: (a) Meeting the interests of different sectors of the society; (b) Facilitating the development of the capitalist economy; (c) Democratizing Hong Kong in a gradual and orderly manner; and (d) Taking into account the actual situation in the HKSAR.

With reference to the above five steps as well as the four key principles, “Consultation Document on the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 and for Forming the Legislative Council in 2016" has been made. 13

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March 2014

Selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 Regarding the selection of the Chief Executive (CE), numerous proposals have been made by various political groups or parties. The followings are the two main suggestions put forward in Hong Kong. A)“Three-channel Approach” “Three-channel Approach” is suggested by the Alliance for True Democracy. Candidates for the CE will be put forth by civil nomination, political parties nomination as well as nominating committee nomination. Candidates only have to comply with such basic rules as “being at least 40 years old” and will not undergo any “elimination process”, “preliminary election” or “screening”. Moreover, they need not necessarily “love China, love Hong Kong”. Candidates can have political backgrounds. A “two-round, run-off” systems will be carried out to select the CE. A candidate is chosen as the CE by winning more than half valid votes. If no candidate obtains 50% votes, a run-off election will be held between the two highest-placed candidates, in which the one who gets more votes in the end wins. B) “One-citizen-one-vote” Referendum Referendum is proposed by Scholarism. Nomination committee will be formed by all 3,500,000 registered Hong Kong citizens. Once a person receives 10,000 signed endorsement of registered voters, he/she can be a candidate. Selection of the CE will be made by the public.

By Natalie Fung


; LSS Newsletter #2

March 2014

Overseas Example (1)—United States of America The Constitution of the United States is the most powerful law of the United States of America. The first three articles exemplify the doctrine of the separation of powers. The current USA government has three main bodies, which are Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary.

In USA, the president and the vice president are not elected directly by the voters. In fact, they are elected by "Electors" who are chosen by popular vote on a state-by-state basis. The Electoral College is a process consisting of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes are required to elect the President. A state’s entitled allotment of electors is equal to the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators. The process for selecting Electors varies throughout the United States. Generally, the political parties nominate Electors at their State party conventions or by a vote of the party’s central committee in each State. Each candidate will have his/her own unique slate of potential Electors as a result of this part of the selection process. Food for Thought Although the President is not directly elected by all voters in the USA, why is this electoral method commonly believed as a democratic election by the American citizens?

By Jackie Wu 15

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March 2014

Overseas Example (2)—Britain British politics have formed what is formally called the Westminster system, which is named after the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. UK is governed by a constitutional monarchy, with the Queen as the official head of state. However, the sovereign is only a symbolic figurehead – her powers are limited by constitutional law, and she performs only ceremonial duties. In reality, legislative and executive power rests with the Parliament and the government respectively. The Parliament consists of two chambers: the House of Lords, which consists of peers and clergymen appointed by the Queen, as opposed to the elected House of Commons. There are 645 Members of Parliament (MPs) in the lower house, each representing a geographical constituency, or a region in the country (much like the election of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong), and are voted for by the public in the general election called every five years or less. Unlike Hong Kong, however, the Prime Minister undergoes no election, and is not voted for by either public or parliament; instead, the leader of the political party with the most MPs in the House of Commons is appointed by the Queen, as the Prime Minister needs the support of the majority of the lower house. He or she then forms a government and appoints his ministers to form a cabinet. Currently, the Conservative Party, Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats are, in order, the three largest in the nation. The incumbent Prime Minister is David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party. As neither party gained a majority in the general election in 2010, the government was formed by the Conservatives in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, so Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats is currently the Deputy Prime Minister. A unique feature of the Westminster system is the shadow cabinet, which is formed by the main party of opposition, traditionally the second-largest political party. These shadow ministers quite literally ‘shadow’ the official ones, doing similar jobs for their own party, and come up with alternative policies as well as hold the government responsible for their actions. At present, the Labour Party is the official Opposition, and its senior MPs the shadow cabinet.

Food for thought: Should Hong Kong choose to adopt this system? Do you agree that the party with the most seats in the Legislative Council should become the Party in Power? To what extent do you think this method could increase the legitimacy of the HKSAR government?

By Prudence Cheung


; LSS Newsletter #2

March 2014

Overseas Example (3)—Taiwan The government of the Republic of China (ROC) followed Constitution of the ROC and Three Principles of the People, which states that the ROC "shall be a democratic republic of the people, to be governed by the people and for the people." The government is divided into five administrative branches (Yuan): The Executive Yuan (cabinet) The Legislative Yuan The Judicial Yuan The Control Yuan (audit agency) The Examination Yuan (civil service examination agency) President* – head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces • elected by popular vote for a maximum of 2 four-year terms on the same ticket as the vice-president, who has authority over the Yuan. •

the current president of ROC is Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

Elections for President Candidates for President must be citizens of ROC who has reached 40 years of age, has set their domicile in the ROC for not less than 15 years and lived in the free regions of the ROC for not less than 6 consecutive months. The President and Vice President are nominated on a joint ticket. A party which has gained at least 5% of the votes at the last presidential or legislature election may nominate a set of candidates. (For the 2012 elections, only the KMT and DPP are eligible to nominate candidates under this method.) Alternatively, candidates may be nominated by a petition signed by eligible voters numbering no less than 1.5% of electors at the last legislature election. The Pan-Blue (Kuomintang 國民黨 ) and Pan-Green (Democratic Progressive Party 民進黨 ) coalitions are presently the dominant political blocs in the Republic of China. Kuomintang (Pan-Blue Coalition) believes that the ROC is the sole legitimate government of "China" (including Taiwan) and supports eventual Chinese reunification. Democratic Progressive Party (Pan-Green coalition) tends to favor emphasising the Republic of China as being a distinct country from the People's Republic of China.

By Kawai Leung 17

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March 2014

Quiz Time 1) Who are the initiators of the Occupy Central Movement? (Name two) 2) How many seats does the current LegCo consist of? 3) How many administrative branches are there in Taiwan? 4) Which group proposed using the “Three-Channel Approach� for the upcoming Chief Executive Election? 5) With reference to Gallup Report in 2013, what was the ranking of Hong Kong regarding Well-Being Index? (ALL ANSWERS CAN BE FOUND IN THE NEWSLETTER)

Do you know the answers? Send them to Fung Chi Ying Natalie 4G (14) through e-class! Prizes are waiting for you! 18

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