Appointees to boost government allies' dominance of councils

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2007, 12:00am

All district councils will be dominated by pro-government forces except Sham Shui Po, sources said, after the government announces its 102 councillor appointees today.

No pan-democrats are on the list, whereas appointees from the Liberal Party and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong will increase in number by 20 per cent, the sources said.

In the new district political landscape, pan-democrats' chances of winning chairmanship and vice-chairmanship roles in district councils have receded.

The 102 appointees represent the maximum number allowed by law. They will join the 18 district councils along with 405 elected members when the new council year begins on January 1.

Most serving appointees with two terms under their belt will not be reappointed. Sources said it is generally accepted that government advisory body members should not retain such roles for more than six years, although some councillors will get the nod for third terms in light of their experience.

Eastern District council chairwoman Christina Ting Yuk-chee, Tsuen Wan District Council chairman Chau How-chen and Kwun Tong District Council chairman Chan Chung-bun, who have been councillors since 2000, are among those who will be reappointed.

In 2003, eight Liberals and six DAB members were appointed. The two parties won 56 and 105 seats respectively in last month's election. Sources said the DAB will benefit by claiming seats at district councils among other government-friendly political groups - a move which will help nurture future politicians.

However, many new appointees are middle-class, professionals without political party affiliation and some already have experience in district work.

Despite Kwai Tsing council traditionally being a stronghold of pro-democracy forces, incumbent chairman and Democrat Chow Yick-hay - re-elected as a councillor in the November election - said he was considering not seeking another term as chairman in view of developments.

Mr Chow said the political atmosphere in the district had changed. 'There may not be any Democrat, or even any pan-democrat chairmen next year,' he said.

He is the only Democratic Party district council chairman in the current session which will end on December 31.