Councils out of step with politics

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 May, 2006, 12:00am

Lee Lap-hong, a Sha Tin district councillor since 2004, said council members were at a loss as to its role and positioning amid the fast-changing political landscape.

Formerly a Democrat, and now a non-affiliated councillor, Mr Lee said the days were long gone when district councils were a stepping stone for aspiring legislative councillors. 'The emergence of the Article 45 Concern Group - the embryo of the Civic Party - shows clearly the former bottom-up path towards politics [from district councils to Legco] is no longer,' he said.

Mr Lee said district councils must become bodies that could provide the material and intangible incentives - such as sense of contribution to society - to lure talented people to take part. Both were lacking at the moment.

The dilemma was that some councillors were not yet prepared to take up a bigger role.

Mr Lee said the spate of malpractice and fraud cases that in recent years had involved district councillors left a worrying question mark over the integrity of some of the members.

'Even if you increase their allowance from $40,000 up to $80,000 a month, many councillors are not really worth that level of pay,' he said. 'If you're going to do that, you have to significantly reduce the number of councillors. Most will not agree to that.'