Posts Tagged ‘pan-democratic’

Hong Kong: Pan-democrats could be the “kingmakers” in a tight political race

February 17, 2017

By Joyce Lim
Hong Kong Correspondent
The Straits Times

Holding over 25% of the votes, they aim to stop Beijing’s preferred candidate Carrie Lam

On March 26, Hong Kong’s next leader will be voted in by an Election Committee of 1,194 members. That only so few have a say reflects the failure of the 2014 Occupy Protests, where protesters demanded “one man, one vote” in choosing the chief executive.

But the experience has galvanised the pan-democratic, or pro-democracy camp, to be more pragmatic. Previously, they would cast blank votes to show that they do not support pro-establishment contenders. This time, they hold 326 votes – which is more than a quarter of the votes in the Election Committee – and are determined to make them count.

With the election featuring three pro-establishment figures – Mrs Carrie Lam, Mr John Tsang and Ms Regina Ip – for the first time, the pan-democrats could be the “kingmakers” in a tight race.

Former security chief Ip, 66, who won the most votes for a female lawmaker in last September’s Legislative Council Election, was the first among the three to announce her candidacy, followed by Mr Tsang, 65, a former finance chief, and Mrs Lam, 59, a former chief secretary. Others include retired judge Woo Kwok Hing, 70, and radical pan-democrat Leung Kwok Hung, 60.

To become the next chief executive, at least 601 votes are needed. To qualify, each contender needs at least 150 nominations from the Election Committee made up of mostly pro-Beijing property tycoons, lawmakers as well as representatives of professional bodies and trade associations.

That’s the challenge for all but Mrs Lam, who has been endorsed by Beijing. She has reportedly secured 300 to 400 nominations while Mr Tsang has 24 nominations from pan-democrats.

Mr Tsang, who is leading in popularity polls, is seen as the strongest contender to Mrs Lam.

Some see Beijing’s move to name its preferred candidate as its bid to control the election, said Professor Lau Siu Kai, vice-chairman of the Beijing-backed Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies. And it is the pan-democrats’ aim to stop Beijing’s choice candidate from becoming the next chief executive.

“If John Tsang and Woo Kwok Hing are able to join the race, there may be unexpected results,” said Prof Lau, referring to the duo deemed acceptable by the pan-democrats. That is because the next leader would be picked by a secret ballot system, which could see Mrs Lam’s supporters switching sides.

Still, if Beijing had not declared its preferred candidate, it is unlikely that any contender would be able to win enough votes.

Last week, radical lawmaker Leung, better known as “Long Hair”, declared his intention to run and urged pan-democrats not to vote for the other four contenders who “do not represent (the) pro-democracy camp”.

But lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who is coordinating votes from the pan-democrats, told reporters the bloc is considering voting for Mr Tsang, Mr Woo and a third nominee picked from a mock online poll.

With nomination closing on March 1, pan-democrats should decide by next week, he said.

Critics have said Mr Leung’s intention to run has further split the pan-democratic camp already faced with the dilemma of whether to support Mr Tsang. Some worry about the possible backlash from endorsing someone who wants to enact the unpopular national security law.

But with Mr Tsang having a huge lead in popularity polls, even if he turns out to be like incumbent Leung Chun Ying, whose policies are unpopular with Hong Kongers, the pan-democrats could say that the candidate they have endorsed was the people’s choice.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/pan-democratspragmatic-approach-to-upcoming-polls

13,000 Hong Kong protesters march against Beijing’s intervention — Get pepper spray attack from police

November 6, 2016

Rally is second in less than a week over central government’s involvement in Legislative Council oath row

By Raymond Yeung
South China Morning Post

Sunday, November 6, 2016, 9:15 p.m.
 

Police have used pepper spray in an attempt to disperse protesters outside the central government’s liaison office in Sai Wan as 4,000 gathered to protest against Beijing’s intervention in the oath-taking saga.

Officers engaged in scuffles with some demonstrators after they marched to the office from Wan Chai in a departure from the original plan for the protest, which was supposed to end at the Court of Final Appeal in Central.

The trouble began after Hongkongers opposed to an interpretation of the Basic Lawby Beijing’s top lawmaking body took to the streets for the second time in less than a week to voice their anger with the central government.

At least 13,000 people, many dressed in black and waving colonial-era flags, joined the event, which began at 3pm on Sunday in Wan Chai, according to organisers. Police put the figure at 8,000 however.

At about 7.50pm outside the liaison office on Connaught Road West, police deployed pepper spray multiple times against protesters during a stand-off which saw masked demonstrators charge police barricades.

 Protesters and police clash in Connaught Road West, Central, after a 45-minute stand-off. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

The crowds had for about 45 minutes been urging the police to open sections of the road to the protesters, who had been confined to the pavement. Officers refused, but in the ensuing chaos protesters spilled into one of two traffic lanes.

Some tried to bring down the barricades while others attempted to climb over them.

After repeated verbal warnings and the display of a red warning banner, police fired pepper spray.

 Protesters run for cover after several police officers use their pepper spray on the crowd. Photo: Paul Yeung

Many ran for cover, while others used umbrellas and protest banners as shields. Those sprayed in the face had their eyes rinsed by fellow protesters.

Several people were then seen being taken away.

 Protesters on the move on Hong Kong Island. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

At 3.30pm, the participants began marching from Southorn Playground to the Court of Final Appeal in Central, and at 4.30pm they were still leaving the gathering point. Some said they had waited an hour before their section was able to march.

Event organiser Civil Human Rights Front claimed 1,600 people took part in a similar rally it organised on Wednesday evening. Police put the turnout much lower at 750.

Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching – the lawmakers at the centre of the oath controversy – participated as did other members of their party Youngspiration. The group urged people to take to the streets and defend Hong Kong’s core values.

“While not everyone agrees with how Leung and Yau took their oaths, an interpretation [of the Basic Law] and the demise of the separation of powers will affect Hong Kong’s economic prosperity, stability as well as people’s livelihood,” a leaflet handed out at the event read.

As protesters had gathered earlier on Sunday, the mood was subdued and police presence was light with a few arguments breaking out.

 An elderly man (right) confronts rally participants on Sunday. Photo: Raymond Yeung

They were being joined in spirit by fellow Hongkongers residing in Britain who planned to stage a demonstration outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London at 2pm local time to denounce Beijing’s “most blatant violation” of one country, two systems.

“The National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s interpretation is not solely a domestic matter of Hong Kong,” a rally spokesperson said. “It also jeopardises the conditions laid down in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, an international treaty.”

The spokesperson also demanded the British government stop “kowtowing to the Chinese communist party” and re-examine Beijing’s compliance with the declaration.

Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang at the event in Wan Chai, Hong Kong on Sunday, November 6, 2016. K.Y. Cheng Photo for SCMP

Meanwhile, Youngspiration again lashed out at Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, accusing him of using the oath row as a political tool to advance his motives.

The city’s leader launched a judicial review in his own name against a decision by Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen to allow the Youngspiration duo to take their oaths again.

But a forthcoming ruling by the city’s High Court could now be overshadowed by an interpretation by the NPCSC, which could come as early as Monday morning.

The Xinhua news agency revealed that Beijing’s top legislative body would “point out the direction in how problems arising from the Legislative Council election” should be handled.

The whole controversy escalated … after the central government decided to step in
CHRIS CHEUNG, PROTESTER

But protest participant Chris Cheung, 23, described Beijing’s ability to interpret the Basic Law as a loophole in the city’s judicial system that needed to be closed.

“We can’t totally blame Yau and Leung,” the student said of the localist lawmakers. “The whole controversy escalated in a short span of time only after the central government decided to step in.”

A number of families also attended the march. A father who would only identify himself as ‘Ben’ brought his two children.

“We disagree with [Yau and Leung’s] actions, but why should Beijing shut the door so fast when the court was still handling the judicial review?” he asked.

He said if the Youngspiration duo were ousted, it would be a great injustice to voters who cast their ballots for them.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2043425/thousands-hongkongers-join-protest-march-against-beijings

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China Set to Rule on Furor Over Hong Kong Lawmakers — HK Police police use pepper spray to push back protesting crowds

November 6, 2016

Thousands protest in Hong Kong as Beijing prepares to issue an interpretation of the semiautonomous city’s Basic Law

Police face off against protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016.
Police face off against protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

China’s top legislative body is prepared to override Hong Kong’s legal authority in a controversy over two local politicians who insulted China in the city’s legislature, denouncing such acts as a threat to national security.

The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress said Saturday it would issue its own interpretation of Hong Kong’s miniconstitution as Beijing “cannot afford to sit idle” when faced with challenges to its authority over Hong Kong, according to the government-run Xinhua News Agency.

On Sunday, thousands of protesters gathered in central Hong Kong to rally against China’s plan to intervene in the furor. The protests grew occasionally tense as some protesters rattled police barricades. Local media and news wires said police used pepper spray to push back the crowds. There were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests

Two of the Hong Kong’s youngest and most radical new lawmakers set off a fresh round of disorder by scuffling with security guards after storming into the chamber and trying to retake their oaths. Photo: Getty Images

Hong Kong started legal proceedings Thursday over whether its legislature should allow two politicians who advocate for greater Hong Kong autonomy to take office, after the pair staged an anti-China protest at their swearing-in ceremony last month.

Beijing’s interpretation of the relevant provision in Hong Kong’s Basic Law would supersede any local court ruling and Hong Kong lawyers have expressed concern that such an intervention would undermine the city’s semiautonomous status.

The NPC Standing Committee, which added deliberations over the Basic Law to its agenda during a regular meeting this past week, said its intervention was “timely and necessary” to prevent a nascent Hong Kong independence movement from damaging the city’s “stability,” Xinhua reported.

The two politicians, democratically elected to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in September, “have hit the bottom line of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and posed a grave threat to national sovereignty and security,” the Standing Committee said, according to Xinhua.

In October, Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung attempted to swear in as Legislative Council members while modifying their oath of office to pledge to defend a “Hong Kong nation,” displaying a banner stating “Hong Kong is not China,” and using a derogatory term for China.

The council barred their oaths, while their subsequent attempts to retake their oaths were rebuffed by the council president pending a local court ruling on whether the two had disqualified themselves from office.

The legal proceedings center on article 104 of the Basic Law, which states that legislators must swear allegiance to the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.”

The Standing Committee discussed a draft interpretation of that article on Saturday, the details of which weren’t disclosed in Xinhua’s report. The committee is expected to vote on the interpretation before its meeting concludes Monday.

Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching during a protest march in Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016.
Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching during a protest march in Hong Kong on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

As China’s decision loomed, protesters gathered Sunday in central Hong Kong to march in the streets, carrying banners and shouting slogans.

“We are here to oppose the Chinese government’s so-called re-explanation of the law,” said Sunny Chan, 38, who works in the investment field.

Some protesters see it as a move by Beijing to undermine the rules established when Hong Kong was handed over to China by the U.K. in 1997.

“I want them to keep the agreement of the basic law, give us universal suffrage and keep the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ as it was listed,” said Chris Fan, who works for an IT firm.

Still, others held modest expectations for what the march would achieve.

“I don’t think marching will do any good,” said Ives Cheng, 25, who is unemployed. “It’s just an act to demonstrate our anger.”

Beijing’s ruling would be only the fifth time since Hong Kong’s handover in 1997 that China has interpreted the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s miniconstitution. On previous occasions, Beijing has issued rulings—upon request from the city’s government—over the right of abode in Hong Kong and how many years the city’s top official should serve after his predecessor resigned midterm.

This time, however, Hong Kong authorities hadn’t asked China to issue an interpretation, local government lawyers and legislators said.

Beijing’s move to rule in the matter would “deal a severe blow to the independence of the judiciary and the power of final adjudication of the Hong Kong court,” the Hong Kong Bar Association said in a statement Wednesday.

Write to Chun Han Wong at chunhan.wong@wsj.com and Ese Erheriene at ese.erheriene@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-legislature-prepares-to-weigh-in-on-hong-kong-lawmaker-controversy-1478418261

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Hong Kong: Beijing’s intervening in oath-taking controversy is a way for Beijing to undermine the power of law in Hong Kong’s judiciary and legislature

November 6, 2016

By Jeffie Lam
The South China Morning Post

Former Basic Law Drafting Committee member slams move to pre-empt decision by Hong Kong court over oath-taking controversy

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Sunday, November 6, 2016, 7:27 p.m.
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A pan-democratic legal heavyweight has accused Beijing of using the oath-taking saga as an excuse to take away the power of the city’s judicial and legislative branches.

Martin Lee Chu-ming SC, who once helped draft the Basic Law in the late 1980s, also said it would be problematic if Beijing granted the legislature’s secretary general the power to invalidate lawmakers’ oaths by interpreting the city’s mini-constitution.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) is set to endorse a draft interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law, which relates to the oaths taken by lawmakers, in a bid to disqualify two pro-independence lawmakers who used derogatory language referencing China when they took their oaths last month. The draft interpretation is likely to prescribe the format and conduct for lawmakers who are swearing in and the consequences of non-compliance.

Lee criticised Beijing’s attempt to pre-empt a decision by the Hong Kong court, which has still to deliver its judgment after hearing arguments in the case where the government sought to disqualify Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching last week.

“[With its interpretation], the NPCSC is trying to take away the [local] courts’ right to handle such important cases in future,” Lee said, adding that the courts would then have no choice but to rule based on the interpretation.

The senior counsel also accused Beijing of taking away the power of the Legislative Council by unnecessarily intervening in the matter.

“Article 104 states that the lawmakers must take the oath in accordance with the law, which we already have at the local level. We can amend it if it is not clear enough,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lee also said it would make no sense for Beijing to confirm that the Legco secretary general, who is charged with administrative issues, had the power to invalidate oaths through the interpretation.

“He is just a clerk,” Lee said. “I’m sure the post will be taken by a Communist Party member in future.”

The founding chairman of the Democratic Party was making these arguments as he crossed swords with Tam Yiu-chung, a pro-establishment veteran, on RTHK’s City Forum yesterday.

Former lawmaker Tam, who is from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, defended Beijing’s move as “timely and necessary”. Tam, who was a member of the Basic Law Drafting Committee alongside Lee, said the clarification “would benefit Hong Kong society and help stamp out pro-independence sentiments”.

When asked if the draft ruling by Beijing amounted to a new local law, he argued the Basic Law’s articles stated only fundamental principles and that the NPCSC had the right to clearly explain legislative intent.

Veteran China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu yesterday quoted the late Li Hou, secretary general of the Basic Law Drafting Committee, as saying that it was Beijing’s intention to draft the city’s mini-constitution in broad terms to enable the central government to interpret the articles in future.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2043449/interpretation-basic-law-way-beijing-undermine-power-hong

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Mainland China Tells Hong Kong ‘cross-border ties at stake if calls for independence are not curbed’

May 8, 2016
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South China Morning Post
Sunday, May 8, 2016

 

The central government fears cross-border relations could be destabilised if growing calls for independence are not curbed, according to an academic at a Beijing-backed think tank.

Speaking on RTHK yesterday, Professor Lau Siu-kai, a vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said at the moment Beijing did not consider the movement a significant political force that needed to be taken seriously.

But he stressed: “In principle and emotionally, the central government cannot accept advocacy for independence and self-determination … That’s because they challenge the country’s sovereignty and unity.”

With Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, scheduled to visit Hong Kong for three days this month, there has been speculations whether the state leader will comment on the recent rise in calls for the city’s independence.

Lau dismissed such suggestions. “I believe Zhang Dejiang’s visit is to strengthen the relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland, and to instil confidence in Hongkongers in the city’s future … not to create clashes or trigger resistance,” he said.

Zhang will be the first state leader to visit the city since 2012. He is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the Belt and Road Summit at the Convention and Exhibition Centre on May 18.

Lau also said he did not believe Zhang would comment on the chief executive election scheduled for next March.

“Talking about this now, particularly in disclosing any message from the central government, could make the political situation even more chaotic or bring up even more protests,” he said.

On Commercial Radio , former lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, founder of the Path of Democracy think tank, said cross-border tensions were caused by two factors.

On the one hand, he said the central government believed Hongkongers, particularly pan-democrats, did not respect its sovereignty in the city.

On the other, the pan-democratic camp had been slamming the central government for neglecting the core values of Hong Kong.

“If Beijing, especially when [Zhang] visits Hong Kong, could talk more about defending core values, or if the pan-democratic camp … could show more respect to Beijing’s sovereignty … I believe this could help resolve problems,” he said.

Tong criticised calls for self-determination, saying it was unclear what the advocates wanted.

“If they want [self-determination] within the [current] constitutional framework, then how is that different from fighting for democracy?”

Tong said that if advocates for self-determination rejected the “one country, two systems” principle, it would be no different from calling for independence.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/1942194/beijing-fears-cross-border-ties-stake-if-calls-independence

A growing political force in Hong Kong: the localists

April 29, 2016

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By Violet Law
The Los Angeles Times
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ng Kong has been rocked by a new generation of activists who stake their future in the former British colony turned semiautonomous Chinese territory.

Known as the localists, the activists bristle at Beijing’s meddling and what they see as their government prioritizing Communist Chinese Party mandates over local concerns.

They have emerged as a social and political force in recent months, ending a police crackdown on street food vendors and taking 13% of the vote in a recent race for a seat in Hong Kong’s legislature.

“When people hear we’re localists, they immediately think we’re troublemakers,” said Kwong Po-yin, an emergency room doctor, local politician and member of the recently formed political party Youngspiration. “Of course we aim to rock the boat because we want to make our society better.”

Who are the localists?

Some are preservationists who rally against the destruction of colonial British heritage sites. Others are environmentalists who defend dying villages against the juggernaut of developers. A few are legislators who have shored up their base on the platform that the interests of locals come first. Many more are pro-democracy agitators who hope the populist banner would help broaden support for their cause.

Localist Edward Leung arrives in court in April to face charges of rioting after Hong Kong officials tried to clear illegal street hawkers from the busy commercial neighborhood of Mong Kok. (Isaac Lawrence / AFP/Getty Images)

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Politically, they span a wide spectrum — from legislators from the so-called pan-democratic camp who condemn the use of violence to militant secessionists who vow to advance their agenda “by any means necessary.”

What they share is a vision of the future in which Hong Kong parts ways with mainland China.

Most attribute Hong Kong’s social woes to the lack of a fully democratic government. Unlike their parents, few harbor hopes for a democratic China, so they increasingly see separation as the only feasible way out.

What are the localists’ demands?

Localists of varying stripes all say they take aim at government policies that serve the interests of Beijing rather than Hong Kong.

Many of their causes — including the rule of law and the protection of civil liberties — resonate with a population that sees Hong Kong’s core values as being under threat.

Although localists say they welcome anybody who adapts to the culture of Hong Kong — where 38% of the 7.3 million residents are immigrants — some accuse newcomers from the mainland of depleting scarce resources. Localists have heckled mainland tourists and protested against the teaching of Mandarin in grade schools. Mandarin is spoken on the mainland while Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong.

At the very least they believe in their right to self-determination. Some advocate for independence.

“We think independence affords the best protection for our freedoms,” said Marcus Lau, a University of Hong Kong sophomore who last month edited a campus magazine issue devoted to the territory’s prospects as an autonomous state.

Why do the localists think they have a case for self-determination, or even independence?

Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule 19 years ago under a provisional framework known as “one country, two systems,” in which the territory was promised a high degree of autonomy until 2047, when it is to be governed under one system: communism.

The localists have reached into history and learned what they were never taught in school: In 1960, the United Nations passed a resolution that included Hong Kong on a list of dependent territories entitled to self-determination and independence. It was removed from the list in 1972 under pressure from China, which had just gained recognition as a member nation.

Why are the localists gaining strength?

Two years ago, the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement failed to win the right for Hong Kong residents to elect a leader who did not have to answer to Beijing. The appeal of the localists has been spreading since.

“They have created a kind of ‘Hong Kong nationalism’ to counteract the nationalism that Beijing has tried to impose on Hong Kongers,” said Alan Tse, a Chinese University of Hong Kong researcher who has studied the rise of localism.

Some localists believe that one way to change the government is to join it. Several are gearing up for the Legislative Council race this fall.

How has Beijing responded?

Communist Chinese officials have condemned militant localists as separatists, a label typically reserved for enemies of the state.

At a public address in Hong Kong in March, an official from China’s Foreign Ministry said “some radical groups are making waves under the localist banner … and planning to organize themselves into political parties. The separatism idea is metastasizing.”

“Beijing is feeling the pinch, and the dilemma,” said Dixon Ming Sing, a political scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “It wants to nip [independence] in the bud, yet Hong Kong’s system affords the freedom of speech to broach the subject.”

“This is a very delicate and potentially dangerous situation,” he said.

Law is a special correspondent.

http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-china-localism-20160428-story.html

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Hong Kong Legislative Council “Bogged Down” By Pan-Democrat Filibusters Designed To Force Discussions on Human Rights and The Freedoms Allowed in Hong Kong

April 2, 2016

Hong Kong government, lawmakers agree to push back contentious measures in bid to stop pan-democrat filibusters

Issues to be shelved include money to remove heavy metal from a former incinerator site and increases in fines for illegal parking

 By Tony Cheung
South China Morning Post

Several controversial bills and funding requests will be shelved or pushed back as the government and the Legislative Council reached a rare consensus on Friday in a bid to break the political deadlock.

Speaking after a meeting with lawmakers from the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camps, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the concession was made to ensure more important bills and funding requests would be handled by Legco before its session ends in mid-July.

Lam said the government had demonstrated “the biggest sincerity” possible, and hoped that the pan-democrats would stop filibustering in their effort to block bills or proposals they deemed “controversial”.

But Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan, who convenes a weekly meeting of 23 pan-democrats, reiterated that it was “too late” for the government to make the change. “The pan-democrats will not be the government’s rubber stamp. We will raise questions on every funding request,” she said.

The two proposals shelved on Friday were a bid to increase illegal parking fines by 50 per cent and work related to a former incineration plant in Kennedy Town.

Officials wanted to spend about HK$1 billion to remove heavy metal buried under the site of a former incinerator and slaughterhouse in Kennedy Town. But district councillors opposed the plan as it meant a park will be demolished to make way for luxury flats.

The pan-democrats will not be the government’s rubber stamp. We will raise questions on every funding request
PAN-DEMOCRAT LAWMAKER CYD HO

Lawmakers also opposed the proposed sharp increase in congestion-related penalties as it could hurt truck and taxi drivers.

Lam also revealed that lawmakers from across the political spectrum had agreed to approve radical lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen’s motion to completely kill off a contentious copyright bill.

On March 3, Chan pre-empted commerce minister Greg So Kam-leung in tabling the motion, putting So and the pro-establishment camp in an embarrassing situation as they did not want a radical’s motion approved – even though they wanted to let the bill go.

The debate ended that day with the draft legislation dropping to the bottom of Legco’s agenda, but pan-democrats wanted the bill removed so the government could not table it again.

“The pan-democrats seem to have this thorn in their heart … but with [the motion’s approval] the bill will be completely shelved,” Lam said.

But there are also controversial plans that Lam only agreed to push back. They included district council plans to spend HK$100 million on signature projects, a police request for funds to upgrade their computer systems and the medical registration bill, which will allow the government to appoint four more lay members to the Medical Council, breaking the balance of elected and appointed members.

“We accepted lawmakers’ suggestions with the biggest sincerity, but the government also has its principles and views about the items’ urgency and priority … so we will handle the items that are easier to get approved first,” Lam said.

The minister also warned that dozens of public works funding requests totalling about HK$60 billion still needed Finance Committee approval. She hoped pan-democrats would follow past practice that if a request was discussed in the public works subcommittee, the debate would not need “to start all over again” in the Finance Committee.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/1932893/hong-kong-government-lawmakers-agree-push-back-contentious

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Hong Kong Elections A Sign Of More Beijing Policies, Or More Freedom?

February 27, 2016

Win for Chow in today’s by-election would mean Beijing loyalist majority in both halves of house

By Stuart Lau
South China Morning Post

It is “beyond doubt” the Hong Kong government will ask the legislature to rewrite internal rules to limit filibuster if Holden Chow Ho-ding wins the by-election today and helps the pro-establishment camp get a majority, an ex-minister has said.

“How would the government give up the golden chance?,”former secretary for the civil service Wong Wing-ping told the Sunday Morning Post a day ahead of the New Territories East poll. “That will be the only chance for the government to amend the rules and procedures as it is unlikely for the pro-establishment camp to get a geographical constituency majority in the [general] election in September.”

If Chow, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, beats pro-democracy rivals Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, of the Civic Party, and Edward Leung Tin-kei, of Hong Kong Indigenous, more than half of the 35 geographical constituency seats will be controlled by the pro-establishment camp.

Together with the functional constituency majority, it is now possible for any changes to the Legislative Council rules of procedure to be affirmed by the majority of lawmakers from both halves of the house.

Most pan-democrats have worried that if the filibuster rules were limited, they would lose what they regarded as their “most powerful ammunition against legislative tyranny”.

While pro-establishment veterans have called it unlikely for the government to seek a rule rewrite – an apparent move to calm worries that might boost votes sympathetic to the pan-democratic camp – Wong said the grounds they used were irrelevant.

For example, it would be wrong to suggest that the legislature lacked time to do such an amendment. While it is true that other government motions would take priority before the current Legco session ends in July, the chief executive could exercise his constitutional power to order an emergency meeting to change the rule before the formation of the new Legco in September, Wong said.

It is also suggested that the government would restrain from doing so for fear that pan-democrats would take advantage of public sympathy and gain more seats in September. But Wong questioned the claim as the room for pan-democrats to get a landslide victory was very slim.

Four other candidates are running: Nelson Wong Sing-chi of Third Side and non-affiliated Christine Fong Kwok-shan, Albert Leung Sze-ho, and Lau Chi-shing.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/1918033/pro-government-camp-will-change-rules-if-it-wins-poll

Hong Kong Pan-Democrats: Expecting an Uphill Battle in Polls In The Face of Beijing Crackdown

November 18, 2015

Analysts say Hong Kong’s pan-democratic camp may not have gained much political capital from the Occupy movement.

HONG KONG: Voters in Hong Kong go to the polls in district level elections on Sunday (Nov 22), seen as the first real test of public opinion following last year’s Occupy protests that have divided the city.

A record 951 candidates are running for 431 district councillor seats in Hong Kong’s 18 districts. With 15 per cent of the seats uncontested, that will be to the advantage of well-funded establishment parties, the biggest being the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB).

Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying

In the past two elections, the DAB has nailed down the local polls into a well-oiled political machine.

“Most of them are incumbents; they think if they keep the turnout low, it’ll be beneficial for them,” said Professor Ma Ngok from Chinese University. “The democrats, after their bases have shrunk, could not have that much resources to actually stage major challenges to the pro-Beijing incumbents in a lot of the districts.”

Unlike lawmakers, district councillors are grassroots leaders who hold very little power. They only play an advisory role to the government on matters like allocation of public funds in the districts.

But if one party controls the district, it has the bargaining power to push the government on issues like more bus routes, or making the neighbourhood greener.

Another reason why the election is important is that there are five super-seat lawmakers that must first get elected on a district level. These super-seats lawmakers are elected by a citywide electorate, rather than a smaller constituency, and currently three out of these five super-seats are democrats.

But the pan-democrats have always been outgunned when it comes to funding, and despite the momentum of the Umbrella movement, there has been infighting within the camp.

“Beijing is paying very close attention to this election, and the Central Liaison Office, which is Beijing’s representative office in Hong Kong, is liaising as well as (providing) financial help to individual candidates as far as we know,” said Professor  from the Centre for China Studies.

“So they hope, as is likely, the pro-establishment candidates will win a majority and they can ride on this momentum and prevent the pan-democratic candidates from winning big in the more important Legislative Council elections next year.”

The pan-democratic legislators currently hold just enough seats to veto unpopular bills in the Legislative Council, like this year’s failed electoral reform package backed by Beijing.

Political watcher Ma Ngok predicts that if the democrats hold onto their seats in this round, it would already be a victory for them.

“In the end, there’s a dearth of campaign activity, bringing down the overall election climate, election atmosphere, and it may bring about a not very satisfactory turnout,” said Prof Ma Ngok.

In the last election, the pan-democrats managed to nab 103 seats, with the pro-Beijing camp winning the lion’s share of 301. The overall turnout was a higher than average 41 per cent.

Hong Kong: Pro-Democracy Groups Uncover Voter Fraud, Election Tampering — More than 400 voters with suspicious or false residential addresses

August 25, 2015

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400 voters with suspicious or false residential addresses could be “the tip of the iceberg”.

By Ng Kang-chung
South China Morning Post

Two pan-democratic parties today lodged further complaints with the election watchdog about the records of more than 400 voters with suspicious or false residential addresses, warning that they were “the tip of the iceberg”.

The cases reported by the Labour Party and Civic Party to the Registration and Electoral Office follow similar complaints by the Democratic Party and Civic Party last week, including that unknown people had used residents’ home addresses to register for voting in November’s district council elections.

In some of the new cases, voters were found to have registered addresses that do not exist. Other cases saw seven or eight voters registered as living in the same 300sqm flat.

Mak Tak-ching of the Labour Party said such irregularities were spotted in constituencies in Tsuen Wan, Hung Hom and other districts, involving some 300 voters.

“We believe it is only the tip of the iceberg. The electoral office should take it seriously and proactively launch an investigation,” he said.

Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Mo-ching, whose party also reported 29 suspicious cases in Mei Foo Sun Chuen, warned that the irregularities could erode people’s confidence in the election system.

Today is the last day for voters to check and update their particulars in order to vote in the upcoming district council elections. Voters should report any change in their details to the office.

A spokesman for the office said it would look into the complaints.

The South China Morning Post has previously reported on voters claiming they live in hotel rooms that no longer exist, the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui and three parks.

A person who gives false or misleading information for voter registration faces up to six months in jail and a HK$5,000 fine. Scores of people were convicted of registering false addresses to vote in a constituency they did not belong to in 2011.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/1852448/400-more-suspicious-hong-kong-voter-records-tip-iceberg-pan