16 February 2019
In the latest Election Committee election, the pan-democrats snapped up a historic 333 seats (including eight seats held by independents. Photo: HKEJ
In the latest Election Committee election, the pan-democrats snapped up a historic 333 seats (including eight seats held by independents. Photo: HKEJ

Election Committee and the ‘besieged fortress’ mentality

The fact that only 1,200 people in a city of seven million are eligible to vote in the chief executive election speaks volumes about the injustice and inequality in our election system.

The Election Committee system laid down by the Basic Law has been designed to favor the pro-establishment camp, with three out of the four sectors which account for 75 percent of those 1,200 votes, firmly controlled by pro-Beijing loyalists.

The only way for the pan-democrats to exert their influence in the CE election is to win as many seats as possible in the professional sector, their only stronghold on the Election Committee.

In order to voice their anger over such an unjust system, many constituents in the professional sector went out and voted in the recent Election Committee election, resulting in an unprecedented turnout and a victory for the pro-democracy camp that beat all expectations.

During Sunday’s election, the pan-democrats snapped up a historic 333 seats (that included eight seats held by independents who are sympathetic toward the pro-democracy cause) compared with just 205 seats in 2011. That accounts for more than 28 percent of the 1,200 votes, giving them substantial leverage on all the candidates in the upcoming CE election.

The pan-democrats’ landslide victory in the professional sector would not have been possible without a high turnout. There were a total of 230,000 registered voters. The turnout was 46 percent, which was up significantly from 2011.

Among the 10 sub-groups in the professional sector, most saw a two-digit rise in voter turnout.

For example, the turnout in the medical and health care sector was up from 15 percent in 2011 to 35 percent this year while the accounting sector saw a spike from 31 percent to 47 percent. The turnout in the IT sector jumped to 63 percent from just 45 percent in 2011.

The pan-democrats’ showing offers a glimpse into the wishes and demands of voters.

Firstly, based on the election results, we can tell that the most decisive factors voters took into account were whether the candidate had integrity that had stood the test of time, whether the candidate had experience participating in civil disobedience actions, and above all, whether he or she was committed to the pro-democracy movement.

Secondly, many voters in the professional sector were suspicious of any candidate directly or indirectly associated with Beijing.

For example, all 16 pro-Beijing candidates lost in the higher education sub-group while pro-Beijing candidates in another sub-group, the accounting sector, took only 13 percent of the seats.

Thirdly, candidates who won in the professional sector were elected with a clear mandate to overturn the so-called “831 resolution” by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and relaunch public consultations on political reform in order to achieve real universal suffrage as soon as possible.

Most of the voters were simply sick and tired of the condescending lectures given by our Beijing leaders on how to be a loyal subject.

The high turnout also reflected a significant shift in attitudes among the silent majority.

Beijing’s increasingly aggressive interference in our affairs and its blatant violation of “one country, two systems” have given rise to a kind of “besieged fortress” mentality in Hong Kong under which many people believe they have been forced into a corner.

Remaining silent and indifferent would only embolden the Beijing autocrats.

Given that, many believe enough is enough and it is time for them to use their vote to change the status quo as a last-ditch effort to save our civil liberties, our judicial independence and our existing way of life.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec. 15

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ columnist

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