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THE2003 DISTRICT COUNCIL IN ELECTIONS HONGKONG
Joseph Y. S. Cheng
After a massive July 1, 2003, protest rally,Hong Kong people voted in local elections to again express their demand for democratization.The electoral victoryand the prospect of winningin the LegislativeCouncilelections in September 2004 symbolize the revival of the pro-democracy movement.' The expectations also generate considerable pressure on the Beijingauthorities, who could not accept a scenario in which China lost controlof Hong Kong.
District Council elections, like local elections in most are normallynot very exciting or significantin Hong Kong. However, countries, in the wake of the massive rally on July 1, 2003, in which more thanhalf a million people marchedin the streetsto protestlegislationon Article 23 of the territory's Basic Law concerningsubversion,theft of state secrets, etc.-legislation perceivedto have a significantpotentialadverseimpacton Hong Kong people's freedoms-the 2003 District Council elections have attractedconsiderable attention from the Chinese leadershipand the international media.
Joseph Y. S. Cheng is Professor and Chair of Political Science and China ResearchProject, City University of Hong Kong. Coordinator the Contemporary of 1. The Chinese authoritiessubsequentlytried hard to prevent the pro-democracymovement from winning half the seats of the legislature. In the Legislative Council elections in September 2004, pro-democracycandidateswon slightly over 60% of the popularvote in the direct elections, in the context of a recordvoter turnoutrate, on a platformof demandinguniversal suffrage for the elections of the Chief Executive in 2007 and the entire legislature in 2008. However, because of the design of the electoral arrangements (only 30 seats out of 60 were up for direct election) and some tactical errors,the pro-democracycamp won only 25 seats, which was a relief to the Hong Kong governmentand the Chinese authorities.For analyses of the Legislative Council elections, see all majornewspapersin Hong Kong on September 13-14, 2004. Asian Survey,Vol. 44, Issue 5, pp. 734-754, ISSN 0004-4687, electronic ISSN 1533-838X. C 2004 by The Regents of the Universityof California.All rightsreserved.Please directall requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions website, at http://www.ucpress.edu/journals/rights.htm.
and each is served by a District Council. The council is mainly a consultative organ. and it advises the Hong Kong Special AdministrativeRegion Government(HKSARG) on the following: (a) mattersaffectingthe well-being of people in the district. Each District Council is also given limited funding to engage in: (a) environmental improvements. the chairpersons RuralCommittees as ex officio members (see Table 1).gov. S.and (d) the use of public funds allocated to the districtfor local public works and community activities.hk/elections/dc2003/tc-chi/dcb/dcb. (b) the promotion of recreational and cultural activities. (c) the adequacy and prioritiesof governmentprogramsfor the district. and (c) community activities. appointedmembers. Hong Kong is divided into 18 districts. and in the case of District Councils in ruralarof eas. 2004-2007 Number Numberof of Elected Candidates* Members 30 (2) 23 (1) 71(9) 33 (6) 40 (2) 45 (3) 53 (0) 52 (6) 70 (7) 37 (2) 59 (6) 63 (6) 33 (2) 41 (2) 41 (4) 68 (9) 61 (5) 15 11 37 17 16 21 22 25 34 17 29 29 16 19 20 36 28 Total Numberof Numberof Membership Appointed Ex-officio of District Members Members Council 4 3 9 4 4 5 5 6 8 5 7 7 5 5 5 9 7 2 1 6 4 2 2 1 1 19 14 46 21 20 26 27 31 42 24 37 42 25 26 27 46 36 Name of District Council Centraland Western WanChai Eastern Southern YauTsim Mong Sham Shui Po Kowloon City Wong Tai Sin KwunTong TsuenWan TuenMun Yuen Long North Tai Po Sai Kung Sha Tin Kwai Tsing Island Total 17(2) 8 400 4 102 8 27 20 529 SOURCE: HKSARG. <http://www.JOSEPH Y.(b) the provision and use of public facilities and services within the district. A District Council is composed of elected members. CHENG 735 TABLE 1 Composition of Eighteen District Councils in Hong Kong.html>.elections. . * Numbers parentheses who of the in indicate number candidates wereelectedunopposed.
the networks and resources of District Councilors and candidates are importantassets of political parties. Pao (HongKong). 5.125) per month. . In the firstplace. and culturalactivities to its advantage.500) for constituency work. Hence. they were either full-time politicians serving as Legislative Councilors and/orDistrict Councilors. VOL. recreational. to demonstratethat their candidatesare younger and better educated than previous candidates. as well as a monthly allowance of about HK$20.and political parties have been eager to enhance their appeal by recruitingyoung talent. nominationsto run in the District Council elections help political parties recruittalent.000 ($2. Ming * Figures parentheses in showthe percentage full-time of of politicians amongthe totalnumber from candidates a political party. Difficulties in findingjobs have reduced the opportunitycost for young people taking up political careers.000 (US$2. An interesting phenomenonin the 2003 elections in termsof political recruitment was that an increasing numberof candidateswere full-time politicians.. Although District Councils have no concrete powers. NO.This high percentageof full-time politicians among candidates also revealsthatDistrictCouncilors'work is becoming more and more demanding. A political party or a coalition of parties securing a majority in a District Council can also exploit the funding available for community.e. and those who cannot devote full time to the job will find it very difficult to meet constituents'expectations. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER TABLE 2 Numberof Candidates Who Were Full-time Politicians in the District CouncilElections in 1999 and 2003 PoliticalParty Democratic Party Democratic AlliancefortheBetterment HongKong of for and HongKongAssociation Democracy People's Livelihood 2003 65 (54%)* 106(51%) 22(59%) 1999 50 (29%) 58 (33%) 13(41%) Liberal Party TheFrontier 6 (26%) 9 (69%) 5 (11%) 3 (33%) IvanChoyChi-keung. District Councils provide an excellent traininggroundfor young politicians who intend to establish their networks for future electoral campaigns to join the Legislative Council. they are useful to for grooming younger generationsof politicians. SOURCE: for has "Canzheng Zhuanye" Yicheng (Running elections been 20. District Council seats are important politicalpartiesin many ways. professionalized). or staff members of political parties (see Table2).736 ASIAN SURVEY.October 2003. assistantsto Legislative Councilors. XLIV.The facilities such as community halls at the disposal of the District Councils may also be similarly exploited. District Councilors are given a salaryof HK$17. i.
the party can claim to serve Hong Kong by reflecting the community's views and demands to the provincial or municipal governments.Business leaders probably feel that if they need anything. 2003. The Tung administrationhas been trying to avoid controversies and confrontationssince the massive protest rally. the Hong Kong community.they also feel embarrassedthat a place where people enjoy a per capita average annual GDP of over $24.a service which obviously cannot be delivered by the pro-democracycamp. the legitimacy of the Tung administration.who obviously do not want a confrontationwith Beijing.2and political pressure on neighboringGuangdongProvince to improve cooperationwith the territory. CHENG 737 The GeneralPoliticalClimateand the SignificantCampaignIssues In response to the July 1 protestrally." South ChinaMorningPost (Hong Kong. a Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement(CEPA) giving Hong Kong better access to the China market.with their help. and therefore. This naturallyreinforcedthe sense of political impotence and frustration for on the partof Hong Kong people. given its wealth. While Hong Kong residents are grateful for the central government's economic support.This event was unprecedentedand may be interpretedas political intervention in supportof the pro-Beijing political parties.in a highprofile manner and praised them for their contributionsto the territory. as the Chinese authoritieshave refusedany contactwith the territory's campsince the 1989 Tiananpro-democracy in men Incident. in English). the effectiveness.3More important. heavy involvementof Chineseleadersin Hong Kong affairs further weakens the autonomy. in orderto arrestdeclining support in 2. September 1. . See the author's"Shameon Us. Actually. At the same time.000. the central governmenttried to help Hong Kong solve its economic problems. the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB).Further. they should lobby Beijing. all major see 30. the Hong Kong ProgressiveAlliance. Chineseleaders'support Tungalso silenced criticisms from the pro-Beijingunited front and the business community. recentyears the DAB has been visiting the Guangdong and Shanghai authorities. should consider contributingto povertyalleviation programsin China and the development of its poor interior provthe inces.JOSEPH Y. the Chinese leadershipindicated strong support for the administrationof Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Cheehwa. In the second half of 2003.000 is seeking assistance from a place with a per capita average GDP of about $1.Assistance included a sharp increase in the number of Chinese tourists allowed to visit Hong Kong. Fordetailsof CEPA. newspapers HongKongon September 2003. 3. S. Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong received delegations from the three pro-Beijing parties. and the Liberal Party.
TheSun (Hong Kong. the proposalsstirredfears of a crackdownon humanrights groups and Falun Gong.a paperaddressingthe implementationof Article 23 of the Basic Law was finally unveiled for public consultationin September2002. the administration Article 23 legislation4that had sparkedthe protests. In response to the open promptingof the Chinese authorities.See ibid. Organizedby a small pro-democracygroup.the Tung administration made several concessions: when an environmentalgroup protested against a reclamationproject in Victoria Harbor. subversionagainst the CentralPeople's Government. 2003. As expected.On Sepannouncedthe indefinitewithdrawalof the tember5.most people believed that this move had Beijing's endorsement. 2002. September25. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER for the Hong Kong governmentand bettermaintainpolitical stability. and to prohibit political organizationsor bodies of the Region from establishingties with foreign political organizations or bodies. The contentsof the proposedlegislation and the highin handedmannerof the Tung administration pushing throughthe consultativeand legislative processes led to the massive protestrally on July 1. 5.. and initiationof public consultation on political reformsby the governmentbefore the end of 2003. election of all Legislative Council seats by universalsuffrageby 2008.Subsequently. Power for Democracy." This articlewas writteninto the draftBasic Law afterthe massive protestrallies in Hong Kong duringthe TiananmenIncidentin 1989. .VOL. Tung's administrationwas wise enough not to initiate the controversiallegislative process in his first term. abolitionof appointedseats on the District Councils after the 2003 elections. which played an importantrole in mobilizing participationin the July 1 protestrally. 2003.000 Christiansin Hong Kong to vote in the District Council elections and to study the positions of the candidates and their affiliatedpolitical groups on matters including the Article 23 legislation.when pro-democracygroups opposed efforts to close District Council polls three hours early. to prohibit foreign political organizationsor bodies from conductingpolitical activities in the Region. Article23 of the Basic Law (Hong Kong's Constitution)states:"TheHong Kong Special AdministrativeRegion shall enact laws on its own to prohibitany act of treason. October20. also jointly released a pamphlet to encourage the estimated 600.or theft of state secrets. sedition. and when public houswanted to ing tenantsobjected to a ban on pets. NO. all candidatesof the pro-democracygroups and 79 independents(altogether 264 candidates)pledged to supporta united political platformdemandingelection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage by 2007.738 ASIAN SURVEY. secession. 2003. 5.the administration social and political harmonybefore the District Council elections in preserve November 2003 and the Legislative Council elections in September2004. The united political platform redefined the focus of local elections and prompted Hong and camps. XLIV. The pro-democracygroups attemptedto shape the political agenda in the District Council elections and maintain the momentum of the July 1 protest rally. in Chinese). 4.5 Kongpeople to choose betweenthe pro-democracy pro-government Local Catholic and Protestantchurches. The pro-democracycamp in the territoryalso perceived the proposals as a threatto civil liberties. the Chinese authoritieswere obviously concerned aboutthe possibility of a repetitionof such activities. Apparently.
3% in 1999 to 35. the impact became considerablymore significanttwo months afterward in the actual elections. 2003. 2003. 7. and simply concentrated on reporting their grassrootsservices. CHENG Y.9% to 37. October 8. There were more restrictionson placing campaign posters in public places and visiting voters in their apartments.but the ratio of respondentswho attachedmore importanceto platforms rose from 24.the traditionaland probablymost effective ways of reaching the electorate. comparedwith 35. . It was generally believed that the DAB and Hong Kong Progressive Alliance relied mainly on their wellestablished networks and would benefit from a low turnout rate. and to his or her political affiliation from 6. while those who attached more importanceto job performance slipped from 41. In contrast.4% for the 1999 elections.2% to 4%. These figures showed the impact of the politicization of local elections.the pro-governmentDAB and Hong Kong ProgressiveAlliance adopted a very low political profile. those who accordedmore significance to a candidate'spolitical orientationincreased from 2. given the strictrestrictionson campaignexpenditure. South ChinaMorningPost. which would be expected to favor the pro-democracycamp. while Power for Democracyorganized meetings an unprecedentedcampaignrally for all pro-democracycandidates.and labor issues and the underprivileged.2%.7 The same poll indicated that 77% of respondentsconsidered that a candithe date'sposition on livelihoodissues would be theirmajorconsideration.2% in 2003. same as in 1999.The governmentwas criticized for not doing enough publicity work. 739 elections of the Chief Executive and legislatorsby universalsuffrage.2% to 10. The prodemocracycampwas particularly annoyedbecausean opinion surveyconducted the University of Hong Kong in mid-Septemberrevealed that only 18. Candidates'performancesand platformswere still consideredvery important.which had been the practice in previous District Council elections. which then decided to cancel the forums. They even refused to attendthe radio forums organized by Radio Television Hong Kong (the government radio station). along the Taiwanmodel. The pro-democracycamp candidates criticized their pro-governmentopponents for not showing up and Radio Television Hong Kong for cancelling the programs. Apple Daily (Hong Kong. There was a conspiracy theory that the governmentdid not want to see a high voter turnoutrate.5% by of respondentscould cite the exact election date. avoided debates with their pro-democracyopponents. October20.JOSEPH S.6 Many pro-democracygroups also organized and encouragedpeople to vote. 6. in Chinese). Meanwhile. as the Home Affairs Departmentgave up organizingforums for the candidatesin each constituency. They avoided the mass media. thus denying the groups the opportunityto articulatetheir views.9%.
All three are pro-democracyparties. . Its membershipremained stagnant and it had not attractedmuch new talent.It was the only party in the territory that organizedwell-designed trainingprogramsfor their new talent. 2003. tempt to bar "opportunists" to claim its banner. 2003. 763 candidatescompeted for the remaining326 seats (see Table 1). including a tripto the U. some new splinter groups were also formed. the Democratic Party had been suffering from a decline in political appeal. The pro-governmentDAB fielded 206 candidates. This represented an atwho joined the party shortly before the elections.comparedwith 30 in 1999. fielded 23 candidates.S. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER The Candidates Altogether. On the other hand. The increase showed that the party. protest rally. compared with 176 in 1999. XLIV.8This phenomenon was another indicator of the unpopularityof the Tung administration. of these candidatesmay in fact join the party after the elections. had been actively cultivating new candidates. Hence. 5. defections. Before the July 1.Lau Honchuen. because in similar past local elections. there were 837 qualified candidates registered for the 2003 elections. and inadequateresources. Ming Pao (Hong Kong. 37 more than in 1999. As 74 of the candidateswere elected unopposed. with its substantialresources. the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance. DAB's close pro-governmentally. While its chairman. a decline of 53 comparedwith 1999. which are seen as the opposition in the eyes of the governmentand which have been demandingrealization of full democracy in the elections for Chief Executive in 2007 and for the entire legislaturein 2008. NO. November 22.It also insisted that its candidates should work in their respective constituencies for at least one year before being eligible for nomination. the Democratic Party registered 120 candidates. Observersspeculatedthat some pro-DAB candidateschose to run as independentsbecause the DAB label might become a political liability. as seven District Councilorsdid in 1999. only 23 of them formally indicated their political affiliation. indicated in a New ChinaNews Agency interview that 40 members of his group took part in the electoral races. competition was seen as intense.VOL. the Democratic Party chose to reducethe numberof its candidatesto avoid being overextended.740 ASIAN SURVEY. just While other pro-democracy groups increased their respective numbers of candidates. Some in view of the community'sstrongangeragainstthe Tung administration. incumbentsenjoyed a reelection rate of about 82%. This reductionwas largerthan the increases in the numberof candidatesfieldedby the Alliance of Democracyfor the People and Livelihood (ADPL) (from 32 in 1999 to 37 in 2003) and The Frontier (from nine in 1999 to 13 in 2003). This time. in Chinese). gathering mainly 8.
the pro-businessLiberal Party presented 25 candidates. they claimed to representtheir generation's frustrationand political demands.nine fewer than in 1999. many observers agreed that youth participationin the District Council elections seemed to have increasedthis time. which together fielded 23 candidates. who had earlier left the Democratic Party.had become a hero in the eyes of the community in efforts to early July because of his refusal to supportthe Tung administration's forwardwith Article 23 legislation as scheduled. The ElectionResults featureof the 2003 District rate The recordvoterturnout was the most important After the July 1 massive protest rally. .the partymust defend the maintenanceof functionalconstituencies in the legislature. leaderof the LiberalParty. Civic Act-up. noting that people had various types of grievances. pro-democracytrade unions were slightly more active of thanin previouselections. who plans to run in the Hong Kong Island constituency in the coming Legislative Council elections. while the pro-government campwon handsomely. helped form a new political group. an increase of one over 1999. the Libpress eral Partyhad still failed to establish a grassrootsnetwork and had no legislators returnedby direct election. was interestingand attractedconsiderablemedia attention. Hong Kong people came out to vote in the local elections to express their dissatisfactionwith the governmentand to repeat their demandsfor democratizain tion. The emergence in 2003 of a small youth political group. in New TerritoriesWest. He formed two groups known as the Yuen Long Democratic Alliance and the Yuen Long Tin Shui Wai DemocraticAlliance. Council elections (see Tables 3 and 4). Hence. By late 2003.JOSEPH Y. the record voter turnout rate was a clear indication that people remained dissatisfied with the Tung administration. DAB suffereda seriousdefeat. Cyd Ho Sau-lan. This was a slight surprise to the public: James Tien Pei-chun. The young people had no political experience and did not consider Theirobjective was to encourageotheryoung people winning a seat important. The Neighborhood and Workers Service Center fielded four candidates. althoughit had presentednone in previous elections.The Hong Kong Confederation TradeUnions fielded threecandidatesthis time. to take part in the elections. This group of young people were all in their twenties (the oldest of them was 28). CHENG 741 around individual legislators. At the same time. Albert Chan Wai-yip.even though Beijing strongly backed Tung and had provided fromthe pro-democracy candidates economicassistancefor Hong Kong. S. Further. Another legislator.1 People Pile. which fielded five candidatesin the Wan Chai District.wanted to consolidate his political base in New Territories West. Finally. 7. for its political survival.including himself. While the pro-Beijingunited fronthad tried to explain the participation the protestrally as an expressionof concern over currenteconomic difficulties.
559 424. In the previous District Council elections. networks assumed a very importantrole in mobilizing voters to vote.840.1 67. of Voter No.2 30.1 2003 400 400 1999 1994 1991 390 346 209 390 346 272 2. Hence.558 342.5 1988 1985 1982 157 145 122 264 237 132 1.413 816.998 1.372 1.VOL. voter turnoutrates were typically highest in the most ruraldistrictsof the New Territories.215 423. of Actual Voters** 1.421.6 52.612 No.6 4 21 0 2 * Percentageof contested seats won includes seats won unopposed. of No.973.832.450.3 37.8 33.201 476.1 32. of Registered Voters 2.610. 3 Votersand VoterTurnout 1982-2003 District Seats Board/Council to Be Constituencies* Elected No.0 86 83 19 15 75 37 29 18 TheFrontier HongKongProgressive Alliance 13 38 6 20 46.923 35. 5. TABLE 4 Performance of Major Political Parties in District Council Number Percentage Number Numberof of Seats of Contested of Seats Candidates Wonin Seats Won Wonin 1999 in 2003 in 2003 2003 Number of Seats Wonin 1994 Elections. XLIV.524 2.in the electionsin 1991 and each.391 899. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER Rates in District Council Elections. returned members two someconstituencies before. **Because votersdidnothaveto vote.363 Turnout Rate** (%) 44.1 * DistrictCouncilswere knownas DistrictBoardsbefore 1997.503 693.764 30. 1994-2003 Democratic Party DAB ADPL LiberalParty 120 206 37 25 95 62 25 13 79.and usually higher in the New Territoriesthan in the urban districts.1 52. Among the latter.5 38. those with higher concentrationsof public-housingestates normally enjoyed higher turn- . someregistered were somecandidates elected unopposed.742 TABLE ASIAN SURVEY. NO.065. rates thevoterturnout wereadjusted accordingly.
Twenty-ninepercent of respondents. As expected. then the success rate drops to 24. and WesternDistrict. DAB candidatesvied with their counterparts from the Democratic Party in 83 constituencies.and 15%. Opinion Program. An exit poll conductedby the Universityof Hong Kong on the day of the 2003 elections produced some interesting data. more voters accorded priorityto the candidates'partyaffiliationsand political platforms. In terms of voters' political orientations. CHENG Y. 54% of respondentsrevealed that their choices were mainly based on supportfor individualcandidatesand 28% on support for political parties.He thereforebecame a conspicuous targetfor the pro-democracycamp. Old residentialand middle-class districts often had the lowest rates. Subsequently. 62% of the respondents indicated that they had voted because of fulfillment of civic duty.5%).LauKongThreeincumbent wah.DAB candidateswon 6 and lost 18. their political backgroundor partyaffiliation. and 84% supported direct elections of all seats of the legislature by 2008. Thirty-fivepercent said that the July 1. The DAB fielded 206 candidatesand won 62 seats.It is obvious that Hong Kong people normally do not expect much from local elections. 2003.with a success rateof 30.their political platformsand views. 743 out rates. rally enhanced their motivation to vote. while 65% indicatedthat there was no impact. The latter'sloss was especially dramatic. DAB legislatorslost in the DistrictCouncilelections. including 16 unopposed. . It was a competition between two legislators:Ho had no of is for director the 9. YeungYiu-chung. 81% of respondentssupporteddirect election of the Chief Executive by 2007. Ip was the legislatorreturned the District Councilorsin 2000. Sixty percent of respondents indicated that candidates' most importantattractionwas their past performance. despite holding a "safe" seat. In the November 2003 elections. achievinga success rateof only 25%. while 2% wanted to show their support for the cause of democracy.2%.JOSEPH S. Cyd Ho Sau-lan. and won in only 12 (14.and Ip Kwok-him.however.5%. if the unopposed seats are discounted. In view of the record voter turnoutrate and voters' expressed political values. in encounterswith ADPL candidates. with the exception of Wan Chai. community and people's livelihood. actually took partin the rally. it is hardlysurprisingthat the DAB lost badly. especially in the middle-class residentialdistricts. Regardingthe basis of the voters' choice. It appeared more votershad been motivated by factors other than networks to come out and vote.a legislatorfrom the Hong Kong Island constitoffered to challenge Ip in the Kwun Lung constituency of the Central uency.1%. Theauthor mostgrateful the dataoffered Robert Chung by Ting-yiu. 13% out of habit. only 13%hoped to make use of the elections to improve society. of Public University HongKong.9 Relative to similar surveys for past elections. the other 17 that districtsall achievedratesexceeding 40%. and he by chairedthe bills committeeon the Article 23 legislation.
12% of voters had been registered for less thanthreeyears.was highly symbolic. the DAB gained 50. Further.7% of the vote in their constituencies. the two camps won roughly the same numberof votes in Hong Kong Island. But it cannot be denied that the DAB did not lose many votes. These candidates enjoyed an electoral success rate of 48%. December 9. most observers agreed that the DAB should be able to secure a majorvictory in the upcoming District Council elections. etc. in addition to formal DAB candidates. although it fielded 30 more candidates and there were a quarterof a million more voters in 2003.'0 According to Ma Ngok. therefore.000 more votes in the 2003 District Council elections than in 1999. roughly equivalentto the DAB's share of the votes in its contested constituencies in 1999. NO.000 votes in New Territories 10. In the beginning of 2003. and packagetours.744 ASIAN SURVEY. But the DAB's support for the Tung administration and its position on the Article 23 legislation became conspicuous political liabilities. 2003. definite preferencesand new voters.they services ranging from free haircutsto free medical consultation. Ma Ngok.000 votes in each constituency). with massive political donations from the pro-Beijing business groups. It lost the elections because it could not appeal to floating voters who did not have clear. Her victory. though they lost in two-thirdsof their encounterswith Democratic Party candidates. were attentiveto local needs and offered many picnics. while the pro-democracy camp enjoyed a distinct edge in Kowloon West and led its West. and New TerritoriesEast (the differences amounted to less than 10. its grassrootsnetwork remained intact. indicatingthat voters had come out to supportthe cause of democracy and to punishthe political partysupportingthe unpopularTung administration. Ming Pao.free medicine for Severe Acute RespiratorySyndrome(SARS). had cultivated an impressive grassroots network over the past decades. The DAB. These candidates secured 44. Ibid. 12. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER workbeforethe election. on average.but she had manypoliticalstarsof the proconstituency democracycamp campaigningfor her. "QinzhongzheJiang 'YincangShenfen' Canxuan" [Pro-Chinacandidates will hide theirpolitical identities in the coming elections]. 5. and various local grassroots groups.12 opponentby more than 10." According to Ma Ngok's calculations on the shares of votes respectively won by the pro-Beijingand pro-democracycamps in the five Legislative Council constituencies. According to Robert Chung Ting-yiu's exit poll. DAB District Councilors and candidates-in-waitinghad been very hardThey providedmany subsidizedbanquets. 11. XLIV. the Hong Kong ProgressiveAlliance. Ibid. in other words. there were at least 150 more pro-Beijing candidates under the banners of Civil Force. On the other hand.which meantthatthey voted for the firsttime in theirlife. Kowloon East. .VOL. workingin servingtheirconstituents.
It lost only one seat as it secured 20 seats. because its supportfor the Tung administration angeredthe silent majorityin the community. it won 69. The party'ssole reliance on functionalconstituencies determines its conservativeposition on political reforms. Its low political profile and the fact that it was not well known to Hong Kong people probably helped. symbolized by the July 1 protest. Apparently.for example. and the upsurge in demand for democracy in the community. 745 A study by Ivan Choy foundthatin the 101 constituenciesin which the DAB fielded candidates both in 1999 and 2003. The Democratic Party fielded 120 candidates. CHENG Y. the partyhad not been able to fully exploit the goodwill generatedby its refusal to supportthe Tung administration's efforts to enact Article 23 legislation as scheduled. 2003. did not do too badly. . the associated anger with the DAB. In with independents one of the raceswas won by an independent. lost 12. fielded 13 candidates and won six seats (two more thanin 1999). comparedwith 21 in 1999. DAB candidates still managed to increase their votes in 16 districts. The Democratic Party has reversed its decline in recent years and in 2003 gained nine more seats to reach 95.it won four. comparedwith 86 in 1999. In its six encounterswith DAB candidates. partywon 26 seats. The crucial weaknesses of the party have been that it has not built up its grassrootsnetworks and none of its legislators were returned by direct election.and suffered a decline in votes in only two districts.in its 83 encounterswith DAB candidates."ShuishuoMinzhupaiQuxuanDashing" [Who says the pro-democracy camp won a majorvictory in the District Council elections?].Yuen Long and Kwai Tsing.. The party certainly benefited from the public's dissatisfactionwith the Tung administration.namely.the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance. In the other 37 constituencies where Democratic Party candidates the competedwith those fromotherpartiesor independents. a decline to 13 from 15 seats in 1999. The Frontier. It appearsthat the DemocraticParty's strategyof reducingthe numberof candidates and stipulatinga one-year work requirementfor them in their respective constituencies worked fairly well. its competition 13. The other pro-governmentparty. ibid. and in the remainingtwo constituencies.13 Both Ma Ngok and Ivan Choy argue that the District Council elections were not so much a victory for the pro-democracycamp but a serious defeat for the DAB. December 12.pro-business Liberal Party also lost two seats.othercandidateswon the electoral races. it has the base from which to lead the movement if it can improve its relations with the otherpro-democracygroups and win back their trust. The party remains the largest and the most powerful organizationwithin the pro-democracycamp.JOSEPH S. The otherpro-democracygroups also performedwell in the District Council elections. The relatively large numberof District Councilors is an importantasset of the Democratic Party in terms of financial and human resources and grassrootsnetworks. Ivan Choy Chi-keung. The pro-government.
the latterwon five seats. NO. in terms of actual distribution of political force in the 18 District Councils. and Civic Act-up won three (not counting the seat of Cyd Ho Sau-lan). while pro-governmentmembers hold the majority in 10. Territories ADPL. and West. and (b) the appointment . Its candidates defeated the of candidate the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance. ADPL has furtherconsolidated its political base in Kowloon districts. three in Kowloon City. in their nine encounters with the candidates from other political groups and independents. Though in the 2003 elections the pro-democracycamp is seen to have won and the DAB to have suffered a serious setback. The Issue of AppointedMembers In the final years of the British administration. plus a foothold (four seats) in Tuen Mun district. the Neighborhood and WorkersService Centre secured four. because system some local community leaders would decline to take part in elections and the appointmentsystem would facilitate their inclusion. candiin the remaining betterin theirencounterswith DAB candidates. The Tung administration. with a balanced situationin Kowloon City (see Table 5).the Chris Patten government abolishedthe system of appointedseats on District Boards. one in New Territories Other pro-democracy groups also performed reasonably well. As with the Democratic Party. The Hong Kong Confederationof Trade Unions won two seats.746 ASIAN SURVEY. The victory for democracy therefore should be seen largely in terms of the political messages sent by the voters. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER in five constituencies.ADPL subsequentlyfielded three candidatesin the Legislative Council elections in September2004. restoredthe practice in 1999. Similar patternsemerge when one examines the 23 candidatesfielded by local groups in New TerritoriesWest. groups thatwere newly formedby pro-democracylegislatorAlbert Chan Waiyip. 7.but lost to the ADPL candidate two constituencies. two in Wong Tai Sin. two in Kowloon West. VOL. the pro-democracycamp enjoys a majorityin only seven councils.but failed to win any seats. the second largest political group within the pro-democracycamp. increasing from 19 seats in 1999 to 25 in 2003. also made solid gains in the District Council elections. dates of The Frontier performed illustratingthe impact of the protest vote.1 People Pile attractedconsiderablemedia attention. The Frontierwon only one. the New West groups lost seven seats and secured only two. However. 13 in Sham Shui Po. The two reasonsgiven by the Tungadministration would enhance the representativenessof District Councils. 5.however. XLIV. These candidateswon seven seats in their 14 encounterswith candidates of the DAB and the Hong Kong ProgressiveAlliance.with three seats in the Yau Tsim Mong district. and the other two went to independents. appointing 102 District Counwere: (a) the appointed cilors.
MingPao. These proportions were roughly equivalent to those among elected members. 2003.Apple Daily. etc. have been severely rebuttedby the pro-democracy political groups. According to an occupational analysis of appointed District Councilors in 1999-2003 conductedby Ma Ngok. about 40% were from business and 17. they could be appointedas advisors or in other appropriate capacities. i. November 2003..Y. instead. They believe that since direct elections to District Councils are partof the democraticprocess. JOSEPH S. businesspersonsor company directors took up 41 seats and professionals (accountants. 2004-2007 Name of District Council Numberof Pro-Beijing Elected Pro-Democracy United Members Front Camp Liberal Party or Neutral Central Western and Eastern WanChai Southern YauTsimMong ShamShuiPo Wong Tai Sin Kowloon City 15 37 11 17 16 21 25 22 9 12 6 2 9 16 12 11 1 20 2 5 4 2 11 7 5 5 3 10 3 3 2 4 KwunTong Tsuen Wan Tuen Mun Yuen Long North Tai Po Sai Kung Sha Tin Kwai Tsing Islands 34 17 29 29 16 19 20 36 28 8 19 7 13 7 10 6 7 14 19 0 13 4 10 11 6 9 11 18 3 4 2 6 6 11 0 4 2 4 6 4 SOURCE: 25. Ma Ngok. CHENG 747 TABLE 5 Distribution of Political Forces in the Eighteen District Councils. system would enable the governmentto recruitprofessionals and other talent to join the District Councils to strengthentheir work. lawyers. .e. October 30.as can be expected. medical doctors. restorationof the appointment system is a serious step backwardin terms of democraticdevelopment. academics.5%were professionals.) occupied 21 seats. These arguments. If professionalsand othertalenthad to be recruitedto improvethe performance of District Councils. "QuyihuiWeirenzhi Pianbang Zhengdang"[DistrictCouncils' appointmentsystem favors political parties].14 Hence the Tung adminis14.
NO. The appeal attractedthe support of the community and the mass media. The appointmentsystem furtherstrengthenedpro-governmentforces in the District Councils.748 ASIAN SURVEY. more than 30% of the appointedseats went to political partieswithin Tung's governing coalition. signature campaigns. The appointmentsystem is a kind of pork-barrelpolitics that allows the to Tung administration rewardits supporters.VOL. elections. a compromise formula was proposed. the DAB six (five fewer). the pro-democracypolitical groups received no appointments(they had earlierindicatedthatthey would not accept such appointments). Buoyed by their success in the elections and determinedto continue to exert pressureon the Tung administration.. therefore.15 Altogether. because it was almost impossible to justify continuationof the appointment system. As expected.however. Among the pro-governmentpolitical groups. etc. Daily(HongKong. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER tration'srationale for appointingDistrict Councilors was not observed in actual practice.the pro-democracypolitical groups formed an ad-hoc Alliance Against the Appointment System to organize meetings. the DAB 11. These privileges were normally reinforced by appointments to territory-wideadvisory committees and other honors bestowed by the Tung The appointmentsystem is. The elections of chairpersonswas a good indicatorof this. 5. XLIV. 15. the number of appointees with December 2003.e. the Liberal Party received eight appointments(one less than in 1999).After the 1999 District Council the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance received 12 appointed seats. The administration. i. . They therefore managed largely to allocate the resources of the District Councils in accordance with their preferences. entertainment. the Hong Kong ProgressiveAlliance six (six fewer).widely perceived as an administration. from chairmanships and vice-chairmanships of committees and working groups to financial resources for minor construction projects. SingTao 18. In response to the community's criticisms. pro-government members controlled a majority in 16 District Councils. the same number as in 1999. pro-democracypolitical groups could only secure two chairmanshipsout of 18. and the Liberal Party nine. Out of respectfor the existing legislation. and protest activities to appeal for abolition. Abolition of the system was included as one of four major demands in the united political platformof the pro-democracycandidatesin the 2003 District Council elections. rejected such an appeal and in December 2003 appointed 102 District Council members. cultural. the Tung administration might choose to continue to appointone or two membersonly to each District Council. This meant that with the help of the appointed seats. and the New CenturyForum one. After the 1999 elections. unfair way of twisting the allocation of political resources against the prodemocracy camp. and sports activities.in Chinese).
2003.The pro-democracy camp chairpersons. CHENG 749 political party affiliationswas reduced from 39 in 1999 to 21 this time. The PoliticalImplications Since District Councils are mainly advisory bodies and the pro-democracy camp has not secured a majority of seats overall. representmuch more than a serious defeat for the 16.given its weak position. scheduled to be held before 2007 under the territory'sBasic Law. Hence. the pro-democracy camp enjoyed an edge in seven District Councils. 18. There was speculation that some people took part in the protest rally on January 1. Sham Shui Po. see all majornewspapersin Hong Kong on January2. The Liberal Partyand the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance nonetheless openly stated that reducing political party-affiliated appointeeswas unfair. Organizersestimatedthat about 100. JOSEPH S.000 people took partin the protestrally on January1. Centraland Western.Wan Chai. North. See all majornewspapersin Hong Kong on December 18. immediate pressure on the Tung administrationat the District Council level is insignificant. The administrationhad used the support of a majority of District Councils as evidence of the community'sendorsementof its controversialpolicies such as soccer gambling.16 Government sources indicated that the Tung administrationwas determined to maintainits authorityand refused to concede before its review of the political system. Kwun Tong. and the rest went to pro-establishment cils. namely. .as this would discourage people who are eager to serve the public from joining political parties. 2004. December 31. but pro-establishmentforces won in the rest. however. OrientalDaily (Hong Kong. Ming Pao.18 Before the appointments. 19.Y. under the theme of "ReturnPolitical Power to the People.winning in five District Councils. 17. The 2003 election results. independents did slightly betterin the elections of vicecouncilors. as this was perceived as anotherproof that the Tung administration has no inclinationto listen to the people. Improve People's Livelihood". December 18. the pro-democracycamp only enjoyed a majorityon two District Councils. and it was unwilling to abandonthis important base of support. the pro-democracycamp won in two coundistrict won in two. 2003.17 was eager to maximize its control of the District CounTung's administration cils to try to demonstratethat governmentpolicies have Hong Kong people's support. officials were willing to pay the political price. The camp also capturedhalf the seats in Kowloon City (see Table 5). It can certainly claim that the appointmentsystem devalues people's votes and twists their expressed choices. But after the appointments. and Kwai Tsing. 1999. in part because they were antagonized by the decision. Yau Tsim Mong. in Chinese). 2004.19 In subsequent election of District Council chairpersons (see Table6). 2004.
ChanKa-wai DemocraticParty Ms. Leung Fu-wing Pro-establishment .Leung Wai-kuen.Wong Kam-chi Pro-establishment Mr.Edward Pro-establishment Mr.Christina Pro-establishment Ms.Kan Chi-ho DAB Mr.Chu Ching-hong Pro-establishment Mr. John DemocraticParty Mr. MarYuet-har Pro-establishment Mr.Henry Independent Mr.Bunny Pro-establishment ViceChairperson Mr.Wong Kwok-hing DAB Dr. Tse Wing-ling.TABLE 6 Party Affiliations of Chairpersons of District Councils. ChanChung-bun. 2000-2003 and 2004-2007 Name of District Council CentralandWestern Eastern WanChai Southern Yau Tsim Mong Sham Shui Po Wong Tai Sin Kowloon City Kwun Tong 2004-2007 Name Party Affiliation Chairperson Mr.Leung Lai ADPL Mr. WongYing-kay.Wu Chor-nam Pro-establishment* Mr.ChanTak-chor Liberal Party Ms. ChanMan-yu.Wong Kwok-keung Pro-establishment Mr.TamKwok-kiu ADPL Mr. Ting Yuk-chee.Ada Independent Ms.
Wai Kwok-hung Civil Force Mr.Li Kwok-fung Pro-establishment Mr.Chow Yick-hay DemocraticParty Mr.Leung Kin-man DAB Mr. ChauChuen-heung DAB Tuen Mun YuenLong North Tai Po Sai Kung Sha Tin Kwai Tsing Island * Pro-establishment means the and and here against pro-democracy camp.WanHok-lim Pro-establishment Mr.Chow Kam-siu.TsuenWan Mr.ChauYin-ming.the Hon Lau Wong-fat Liberal Party Dr.Ng Sze-fuk HK ProgressiveAlliance Mr.Lam Wai-keung Pro-establishment representing rural interests Mr.Thomas DAB Mr.Leung Wing-kuen Service Neighborhoodand Workers Centre. Francis Pro-establishment Mr.Leung Che-cheung DAB Mr.ChauHow-chen Pro-establishmentrepresenting rural interests Mr. ChungWai-ping Pro-establishment Mr.Cheng Chun-ping HK ProgressiveAlliance Mr.TheFrontier Ms. Joseph Democratic Party Mr.Pang Cheung-wai. pro-HKSARG pro-Beijing normally . the Hon Tang Siu-tong HK ProgressiveAlliance Mr.
21. XLIV. DAB chairmanTsang Yok-sing assumed responsibilityfor the party's loss and resigned his post. Actually the HKSAR political system allows the Chinese leadershipto enjoy veto power on all significant issues and the electoral system has also been designed to preventthe opposition. the Tung administrationwas a "lame duck.But afternon-operational werereitems yearamounted HK$43. The recordvoter turnoutrate and the election resultsclearly indicatethat that Beijing's Hong Kong people remain angry with the Tung administration. the pro-democracycamp. It is politically impossible for the pro-democracymovement to pass over these hurdles unless the Chinese leadership accepts political reformsin Hong Kong. Soon afterthe change of leadership. of supportingTung does not work. This meant that precious time had been lost in tacklingeconomic recoveryandthe budgetdeficits. thus allowing the proposal to go through. The fact thatthe pro-democracy campnow has a small chance of securing30 seats in the legislatureshows thatthe extent of public dissatisfactionwith the Tung administrationis threateningBeijing's fundamentalpolicy towardHong Kong. changing the electoral system for the Legislative Council requiresthe approvalof two-thirds of the legislators and the endorsementof the Chief Executive. Under the accrualsystem of accounting.38 .the HKSARG's deficit for the 2002-03 financial to billion(US$5. and that the community's demand policy for democracycannotbe ignored. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER DAB.e. the DAB adopted a low profile and maintained distance from the Tung administration. For its own political survival. 2003.the governmenthad to raise revenue and cut expenditurein orderto reduce the budget deficit. DAB legislators also abstained from voting on a proposal from pro-democracylegislators requesting the Chief Executive to brief the Legislative Council after each of his reportingtrips to Beijing.and the Tung 20. The first importantconsequence of the 2003 election resultwas a leadership change in the DAB and redefinitionof its political line. Changingthe electoral system for the Chief Executiverequiresthe above.Hence. at least in the months before the Legislative Council elections.56billion).DAB legislators refused to supportthe government's plan to cut funding for the territory's tertiaryinstitutions. 5. who was known to be very critical of the Chief Executive.21These measures were bound to be unpopular. he was replacedby Ma Lik. VOL. i. On the same day. See all majornewspapersin Hong Kong on December 20.5 billion) in the 2002-03 financial year. plus the green light from the StandingCommittee of the National People's Congressin Beijing.20 The LiberalPartyalso refused to staunchlysupportthe government.752 ASIAN SURVEY.forcing Educationand Manpower SecretaryArthur Li Kwok-cheung to withdrawhis proposal.. which amountedto about HK$60 billion ($7. NO." in the sense that it could not introduce any controversialor unpopularmeasures. from gaining a majority in the legislature.As expected. According to the Basic Law. especially in the following Legislative Council elections.
In orderto maximize the numberof seats won in September2004.i. and the pro-democracycamp did not have enough candidatesto run in the 400 constituencies. but failed to present themselves as an alternativeadministration.e. 2004. .Since the issue of political reformshad moved. avoided controversies and simply hoped that the economy would improve.63 billion). The District Council elections were closely monitoredin an unprecedentedway. Chinese leaders were very concerned about the demand for democracy in the territory.91 billion) recordedundercash accountingin the previous financial year. Cooperationamong the pro-democracy political groups in the Legislative Council elections proved to be much more difficult than in the District Council elections.Cases of directconfrontationamong the pro-democracy candidates in more than 20 constituencies were tolerated because the undesirable outcomes (e. It was not enoughjust to fight for democracy.. on the other hand.. The expectations. in 1998 and 2000.The latteradopteda single-memberconstituency and simple majority system.48 billion (US$7. The various pro-democracygroups attemptedto appear united. January6." It adopted a low profile. The victory in the District Council elections and the prospect of securing half the seats in the Legislative Council elections in September2004 symbolized the revival of the pro-democracy movement. pro-democraticgroups had to agree on a united political platform and a shadow cabinet.JOSEPH Y. Legislative Council candidates. Ideally. to demand election of the Chief Executive by universal suffrageby 2007 and of the Legislative Council by universalsuffrageby 2008. competed in constituenciesand voters could only vote for one medium-sizedmulti-member slate of candidates. they basically succeeded in presenting to Hong Kong people a list of candidates endorsed by the entire prodemocracy camp. CHENG 753 administrationdid not have the political will and supportto prescribe "bitter pills. close to the HK$61. to ensure that Beijing would be better informed. amply demonstrated ments in the economy. See South ChinaMorning Post. also generatedconsiderablepressure from the Chinese authorities. The elections and that despite improvethe protestrally on January1.g. 2004. S.Pro-democracypolitical groups.7 billion (US$7. the operatingdeficit stood at HK$59. and in the process alienated the business community and adversely affected the reputationof Hong Kong as an international financial and business center. But the achievement in this areawas not impressive.They sent many agents to Hong Kong after the huge July 2003 protest. and coordinationwas unsatisfactory. competed against each other in the past two elections. in fact. benefitting the pro-government candidate) were insignificant. at the same time.not an opposition operating merely for the sake of opposition. Hong Kong people remaineddissatisfiedwith the Tung and administration wanted democracy.
democratization in the HKSAR may have a brighterprospect. NO. 5. as "entirelythe special administrativeregion's internalaffair. XLIV. President Chen Shui-bian won his second term in March2004 and tension may well escalate across the TaiwanStrait." Xu Chongde was even quoted as saying that the past six years had shown that Hong Kong's political system suited its "practicalsituation. Two measuresseemed to have been adoptedby the leaderhad and ship: procrastination lowering expectations. On December 3. it was clear that these messages were an informalway of telling the community that political reforms would be decided by Beijing. ProfessorsXu Chongde. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER been taken over by the Chinese leadership. the political reform demands of the pro-democracycamp involving revisions of the Basic Law." and was aligned with the fundamentalinterests of the territory'sresidents. These legal experts termed it a "misunderstanding" that some in Hong Kong had regardedthe constitutionalchanges. 22.Beijing will be more conservative on democratizationin Hong Kong. The Tung administration earlier promised to release a timetable on the review of the political system before the end of 2003. i. 2003. public consultation must involve a formal consultative document (a Green Paper)listing all possible options.Beijing will have to tackle the challenge itself. should evolve accordingto the territory's"practicalsituation. It also promised to initiate public consultationon political reforms at the beginning of 2004. if the Chinese leadership secures enough political will and supportfor political reforms in China. and the Tung administrationwas broadlyperceived to be incompetentand unpopular. clearly defined channels for Hong Kong people to articulatetheir views and choices.e. .as well as a Mainland China member of the Basic Law Committee of the National People's Congress."met the requirements for the "objective development of the special administrativeregion. and Wu Jianfan. the official Xinhua News Agency released an interview with three persons who helped draft the Basic Law. VOL.undersuch circumstances."The next day. a designated organ to collect such views and present a report.754 ASIAN SURVEY. Xia Yong. and a guarantee that the community's expressed choices will be implemented... and it failed to fulfill the pledge. Further. PresidentHu Jintao met Tung Chee-hwa in Beijing and indicatedthatthe centralgovernmentwas "highly concerned"over the development of Hong Kong's political system.22 Analytically. two developments will continue to have an importantbearing on the progress of democracy in the territory:the relations across the Taiwan Strait and the pace of political reforms in China. Ibid. Hu said. which. Meanwhile. December 5. and Hong Kong people might not get what they want. 2003. But both are beyond Hong Kong people's control. According to the pro-democracymovement. Xiao Weiyun. and the community wondered what form the consultation would take.
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