We must not lose sight of ultimate Legco aim

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 November, 2010, 12:00am

In June, Hong Kong witnessed momentous political change with the passing of the constitutional reform package after co-operation between the administration, a faction of the pan-democrats and implicit support from Beijing. The reforms included the addition of five new functional constituency seats. Although they will be filled by nominees of district councillors, all Hong Kong's electors who are not already eligible to vote in functional constituencies will be able to vote for them. Theoretically, the 2012 Legislative Council will be returned by more voters exercising more of an influence over who represents them.

However, support for this arrangement was acquired upon the understanding that these additional seats were only a transitional arrangement. Many of those who supported the package rightly believe that the best way to achieve a fair, accountable and representative legislature would be to abolish functional constituencies. The new functional constituency seats which give rise to the five 'super-lawmakers', so dubbed since they will effectively have a mandate of at least 300,000 votes from the 3.2 million eligible voters, is yet another complication in a deeply flawed system. They will have been eligible only because their expertise in neighbourhood-specific affairs as district councillors and yet, as lawmakers, they will be expected to account to the public with a mandate greater than that of the chief executive. Furthermore, the resources required to run a city-wide campaign are so great that even some heavyweight establishment politicians are saying it is beyond their means.

The result is a Legco stacked with different classes of members. On the one hand, five lawmakers will have a mandate greater than both the chief executive and lawmakers in the geographical constituencies, yet some of their colleagues in the functional constituencies will have been returned uncontested. This is far from a desirable chamber and serves to remind us we must complete this transition and iron out the contradictions to fulfil the 'ultimate aim' of the Basic Law to elect all lawmakers by universal suffrage.