Plug loophole to avoid wasting public money on ersatz by-elections

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 June, 2011, 12:00am


In the letter ('Move to axe by-elections is an affront', May 28) Civic Party chairman Chan Ka-lok quotes a Polish politician saying that 'democracy is priceless'.

I could not agree more with the assertion that democracy is priceless. However, striving for democracy at the expense of others is something else entirely.

For example, in last year's by-elections, the pan-democrats appeared to achieve what they wanted. From another perspective, however, they achieved nothing in terms of democracy.

We must ask ourselves whether we could sense any change in democracy after the election? Of course, we could not. The event therefore seems to have been fruitless.

Five legislative councillors resigned and were re-elected in the by-elections. The status quo remained, with one enormous difference: the government's popularity fell because it had wasted an astronomical amount of money on these by-elections.

Isn't it ludicrous for the administration to spend such a huge amount of money maintaining the status quo? The by-election process was a colossal waste of money.

That huge sum could have been put to better use for many other purposes, for example, housing. There are many people in Hong Kong who are living in substandard buildings that were built decades ago.

It could also have been spent on health care. Our hospitals are in urgent need of more resources. Medical personnel are stretched to the limit.

They do not get enough rest, and consequently medical errors happen. People's health and lives are unnecessarily put at risk.

In order to prevent this classic example of misuse of public money being repeated, many suggestions have been put forward.

However, what we need is not a new system but appropriate modifications to the current one. Put simply, the government should not allow councillors who resign before the end of their term to run in the ensuing by-election.

The major reason for this arrangement is that if councillors resign, it is reasonable to conclude that they do not want to continue in their position. Why would they wish to run in the by-election triggered by their resignation? To give up your position only to seek to regain it is illogical behaviour. In no way should this kind of loophole be allowed.

Ho Kam-tong, Yuen Long