Plan to scrap by-elections criticised
Government allies, miffed at not being consulted before a proposal to scrap by-elections for some constituencies was announced on Tuesday, have expressed doubts whether the plan is the best way to prevent dissident lawmakers from resigning to trigger polls.
Some pro-government lawmakers said they learned of the proposal just hours before it was announced by Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung, while others learned of it only from the announcement.
'We agree that there should be some way to discourage unnecessary resignations, but we are not sure this is the best way,' Liberal Party chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee said.
Under the proposal, no by-election would be held for any Legislative Council geographical constituency seat or any of the five district council sector seats to be elected next year.
Instead, the candidate next in line in terms of the number of ballots his or her team got in the election would fill the vacancy.
'If the replacing candidate has lost by a wide margin, voters will doubt the credibility of his taking up the seat,' said Lau, whose party has yet to agree a stance on the proposal.
Industrial sector lawmaker Lam Tai-fai agreed, saying: 'The candidate may have moved to work in another constituency, retired, withdrawn from the political arena or even migrated. Then suddenly he is asked to come back to the constituency to serve as its legislator. How can residents be convinced?'
The move came a year after the campaign by the Civic Party and the League of Social Democrats in which five lawmakers, one from each of the five geographical constituencies, resigned to trigger by-elections which they saw as a de facto referendum on political reform. Without challengers from pro-Beijing parties, all won.