• Sunday, Oct 24, 2021
  • Last Update : 03:24 pm

Hong Kong's first 'patriots-only' election kicks off

  • Published at 01:50 pm September 19th, 2021
carrie lam
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam visits a polling station during voting of the election committee, in Hong Kong, China, September 19, 2021 Tyrone Siu/Reuters

The objective of improving the electoral system is to ensure patriots administer Hong Kong

Fewer than 5,000 Hong Kong people from mostly pro-establishment circles began voting on Sunday for candidates to an election committee, vetted as loyal to Beijing, who will pick the city's next China-backed leader and some of its legislature.

Pro-democracy candidates are nearly absent from Hong Kong's first election since Beijing overhauled the city's electoral system to ensure that "only patriots" rule China's freest city.

"The whole objective of improving the electoral system is to ensure patriots administer Hong Kong," Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, said on Sunday morning.

"I doubt very much that another government or country will allow the public election to their local legislature of people whose mission is to undermine the national interest or national security."

The election committee will select 40 seats in the revamped Legislative Council in December, and choose a chief executive in March.

Police have ramped up security across the city, with local media reporting 6,000 officers are expected to be deployed to ensure a smooth vote, in which about 4,900 people are expected to cast ballots.


Also Read - Candidate skips Hong Kong bar polls on safety grounds


Changes to the political system are the latest in a string of moves - including a national security law that punishes anything Beijing deems as subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces - that have placed the international financial hub on an authoritarian path.

Most prominent democratic activists and politicians are now in jail or have fled abroad.

China's rubber-stamp parliament in May changed Hong Kong's electoral system, reducing democratic representation in institutions and introducing the vetting mechanism for election candidates and winners. This all but removed any influence the opposition was able to exert.

The changes also dramatically reduced the influence of the city's powerful tycoons, although groups close to their business interests retain a presence in the 1,500-strong committee that selects Hong Kong's chief executive.

Tycoons out; sons remain

China promised universal suffrage as an ultimate goal for Hong Kong in its mini-constitution, the Basic Law, which also states the city has wide-ranging autonomy from Beijing.

Democracy campaigners and Western countries say the political overhaul moves the city in the opposite direction, leaving the democratic opposition with its most limited space since Britain handed the former colony back to China in 1997.

Committee membership for 117 community-level district councillors, dominated by democrats, was scrapped, while more than 500 seats designated for Chinese business, political and grassroots groups were added.

The new electoral list includes community-level organisations such as Modern Mummy Group and Chinese Arts Papercutting Association, Cable TV reported.


Also Read - Hong Kong passes sweeping pro-China election rules, reduces public's voting power


Representation from professional sub sectors that traditionally had a bigger pro-democracy presence was diluted by the addition of ex-officio members, reducing the number of elected seats.

About 70% of the nominees did not feature in the last two polls for the committee, which will expand by 300 members to 1,500, Reuters calculations based on the election committee website showed.

Many prominent tycoons, including Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing, will not be on the election committee for the first time, as Beijing seeks to rebalance power from big conglomerates to small businesses.

Three property moguls - Li, 93, of CK Asset Holdings, Lee Shau-kee, also 93, of Henderson Land, and Henry Cheng, 74, of New World Development - withdrew from the race, although their sons will retain their seats.


50
Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail