Should Legco scrap by-elections for geographical constituencies?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 June, 2011, 12:00am


Elaine Yu Yee-nee, 15, Creative Secondary School

It is not necessary to hold a by-election to fill a vacant seat in the Legislative Council. The government should scrap wasteful and redundant by-elections.

That doesn't mean we should neglect the will of the people and take away their right to vote. But to save money and time, I agree with the view of Stephen Lam Sui-lung, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, who said the vacant seat should be filled by the candidate who gained the next-highest number of votes in the previous election.

In January, five Civic Party and League of Social Democrats lawmakers resigned to trigger a by-election. Absurdly, all of them won their seats back. That by-election drew a record-low turnout of 17.1 per cent of voters and squandered HK$126 million.

The government could have used that money to reduce income disparities and improve the welfare system.

Every time we vote, we should take it seriously and support the candidate we think will do the best job. It is not fair to say that, by cancelling by-elections, the government is taking away our right to vote. This is because we have already voted for a certain politician. We had a choice and we need to use it responsibly. We should not blame the government for not giving us a 'second chance'.

To prevent legislators doing things for their own political benefit, and to save public money, I agree we should scrap by-elections in geographical constituencies.

Ronald Ling Pak-ki, 20, University of Hong Kong

Recently, the government announced a plan to cancel by-elections in geographical constituencies for the Legislative Council.

This was a politically unwise move. Clearly, its intention was to prevent the radical democrats from initiating another 'de facto referendum'. The government should cancel this proposal or risk being accused of obstructing democracy.

First, the government should not change the rules only for geographical constituencies. Under the proposed amendment, functional constituencies won't be affected. The move seems to be politically driven, so the public is suspicious of the government's motives.

More importantly, the policy would rely on the initial election result to determine which of the defeated candidates should fill a vacancy when a Legco member resigns. Although the government insisted the result would still represent the voters' choice, I believe the people deserve their right to vote again in a by-election.

An election allows voters to choose their desired candidate, and their wishes may change from time to time. The government should not simply assume the voters won't change their decision even though some time has passed since the original election.

The government could consider preventing a Legco member who resigned from participating in the by-election. This would prevent unnecessary resignations as well as a wastage of public resources in organising a by-election.

Instead, the scrapping of by-elections in geographical constituencies seems like a rather immature political trick.