Appointed councillors decry plan to take away voting rights

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 November, 2009, 12:00am

Government-appointed district councillors yesterday said a constitutional reform proposal which could rob them of their right to stand for and elect their colleagues in Legislative Council elections was unfair.

Their reaction came after the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong floated a proposal which could see the creation of five new district council constituencies, in addition to the current one in the legislature, filled by elected district councillors only.

The chairman of Sham Shui Po District Council, Chan Tung, who was reappointed to that council by the government in 2007, believed many people would not accept appointments if they were excluded from voting for their five representatives in Legco. If councillors were deprived of the right to vote, this would lower appointed councillors' value in the system, he said.

The DAB's proposal, which has been viewed as an improved version of the government proposal rejected by the legislature in 2005 on the grounds that it was undemocratic, has been rejected by pan-democrats.

Officials have previously raised concerns that preventing the 100-plus appointees among the 500-strong district councillors from standing and voting might open the government to legal challenges.

Tsang Heung-kwan, an appointed councillor from Eastern district, said the proposal would be unfair to appointees. But Chan Chung-bun, an appointed councillor who chairs Kwun Tong District Council, said progress in democratisation was more important and people chosen for appointment after the 2011 district elections could reject the offer if they considered the system unfair.

Meanwhile, former Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming yesterday urged pan-democrats not to accept the district council proposal, and said functional constituencies must not be retained when universal suffrage was introduced.

Independent legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee also voiced opposition, saying it would bring parochial voices to the legislature.

District councillors were elected in small constituencies, and very often became too concerned about district affairs, she said.