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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Govt to slash the proportion of directly elected district council seats to 20 pc under electoral reform

The government unveiled an electoral reform of the District Council on Tuesday to reduce the proportion of directly elected seats to about 20%, which has been approved by the Executive Council for introduction into the Legislative Council.
According to the proposed changes, only 88 out of the 470 district councillors would be directly elected in the future election, a significant reduction from the 90 percent of representatives currently.

Among the 470 seats, government appointees will fill 179, and the remaining 176 seats will be elected by the members of Area Committees, District Fight Crime Committees, and District Fire Safety Committees through indirect elections.

Candidates for election will have to secure nominations from the three committees mentioned above and will be vetted for political loyalty and national security risks.

“I do not agree that pure counting (of) election votes mean democracy,” Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said in the press conference. “Different places have their own systems that must take into consideration all the characteristics and all the elements of that place.”

He added that the reforms would restore the District Councils "back to the right track" as the councils elected in 2019 were "platforms of protest violence and Hong Kong independence".

A monitoring mechanism of councillors' performance will be introduced, which includes investigating district council members whose behaviour falls short of public expectation and imposing appropriate sanctions proportionate to the severity of the shortfalls.

In addition, District Officers will be designated as district council chairmen and lead the work of the councils.

"There will be better coordination among district councils, the three committees and Care Teams, so that they can complement each other to generate synergy, serving the people more effectively,” a government spokesman said.

The government will also establish a “Steering Committee on District Governance” to be chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration to take a leading role in the overall strategies, policies and measures of district governance. A task force on district governance will be set up to coordinate and steer district work of various policy bureaux and departments.

The next district council election is expected to take place later this year.

Two years ago, Hong Kong had already amended its electoral laws for its legislature, drastically reducing the public’s ability to vote and increasing the number of pro-Beijing lawmakers making decisions for the city.

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