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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Voting rights 'not hit by district cuts'

Voting rights 'not hit by district cuts'

Upcoming district council elections will not infringe upon some 4.41 million voters' rights, Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs Alice Mak Mei-kuen said yesterday in defense of the move to slash the number of directly elected councilors by 80 percent.
She said voters are still entitled to nominate and select councilors under a "one person, one vote" system that did not violate laws.

That came a day after the unveiling of a plan to overhaul district elections that allows just 88 of 470 councilors to be directly elected, subject to a binomial "two seats, one vote" system under which those with the second most votes also takes office.

In the coming election, 176 councilors, or 40 percent of seats, will be selected through indirect elections. Direct and indirect election hopefuls will have to get three nominations from each district's area, fight crime and fire safety committees.

There will be 179 appointed councilors, while the rest are occupied by rural committee chairs.

Mak said the new system will improve the councils' role as an extension of the administration.

She also slammed those elected in 2019 for focusing on politics rather than district-level affairs.

The tenures of those elected in 2019, when democrats won 392 of 452 seats in a landslide, end in December. Just around 60 democrats remain after most quit and dozens were arrested or disqualified when a "patriots only" regime was installed.

"If councilors' performance is not satisfactory, or they violate the standing order, fail to disclose interests, or violate the law the [bureau] will investigate them," Mak said.

A Legislative Council brief lists "use of foul language" and "interrupting, digressing, repeating" as cause for investigation, even sanctions.

Sha Tin councilor Chris Mak Yun-pui said the administration aims to consolidate power through the new district councils.

He said the government has refused to listen to councilors elected in 2019, and expects district officers - government representatives slated to chair the upcoming councils - to be "even harder to work with."

Democratic Party chief Lo Kin-hei expressed concern over appointed officers "If councilors want to follow up on matters with government departments, would the officers help them or side with authorities? Will appointed councilors give a voice to the citizens or just ensure smooth sailing for the government?"

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