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  • Jul 24, 2014
  • Updated: 7:13pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

Hong Kong's political parties need to engage the people

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 December, 2012, 3:09am

Two key political parties elected new leaders this month. The Democratic Party will be led by veteran Emily Lau Wai-hing, who narrowly defeated moderate Sin Chung-kai after her last-minute decision to come forward. The pro-business Liberal Party will be chaired by Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee following an uncontested race. There is little doubt that Lau and Chow are both seasoned enough to take over the stewardship. But that the city's two oldest parties continue to be led by faces from decades ago speaks volumes about the dearth of political talent in Hong Kong.

Admittedly, our parties are still relatively young. Some are recent arrivals with just a few years of history. The Democrats and the Liberals were founded in the early 1990s. Once the two major voting blocs in the legislature, both have seen their influence wane following internal rifts and electoral setbacks over the years. Since then, successive leaders have repeatedly vowed to reform the parties and groom younger aspirants to senior positions. The latest leadership change shows that, evidently, this is easier said than done.

The proliferation of pro-democracy parties such as the Civic Party, the NeoDemocrats and the radical People Power, is partly attributable to the Democratic Party's failure to reinvent itself. Together with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, Liberals and newbies like the New People's Party at the other end of the political spectrum, the choices for the community, in theory, are plentiful. Sadly, most people still do not identify themselves with any group. A Chinese University survey last month showed that just 5 per cent of the public are happy with any party's performance. One in seven said their impression of political parties had deteriorated over the past 10 years.

The findings are hardly surprising. Constitutionally, there is little role for political parties in a so-called executive-led government. The limited power vested in Legco and the dominance of government allies render it a rubber stamp most of the time. Recently, the unruly behaviour of some rebel lawmakers has further undermined its image.

However, the development of party politics is an irreversible step in our quest towards democracy. The promise of universal suffrage is expected to open more opportunities for them. They should better engage the people and prove that they can play a more important role in governance.

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henleyhk
As you so rightly say, "there is little role for political parties in a so-called executive-led government. The limited power vested in Legco and the dominance of government allies render it a rubber stamp most of the time." Until that changes, people will continue to see little point in becoming engaged. Meanwhile, what passes for government in HK will continue to waste huge amounts of resouces trying to build a consensus on this and that to make up for its complete lack of popular mandate/legitimacy. If it weren't so sad, it would be funny. The oligarchs (who pay no tax on their capital gains, dividends or incomes) will continue to grow richer, while CY encourages us taxpayers to subsidise through welfare payments the meagre wages of the masses. HK is a fundamentally-flawed society whose many tensions will one day explode.
xiaoblueleaf
Our politicians need to learn to compromise, negotiate in give-and-take with the executive branch and other political parties in order to achieve anything for the benefit and harmony of HKers - instead of just being divisive for sake of being divisive. What is the point of trying to impeach the Chief Executive when there is no chance of passing such resolution as accusation of "lying" is judgemental at best? It is never made clear to the public what is the basic platform of and goal to be achieved by the party: Civic, Democratic ...
captam
@ "The promise of universal suffrage is expected to open more opportunities for them"
You have chosen the wrong words in this sentence. This should have read "The threat of universal suffrage is expected to diminish opportunities ......."
 
 
 
 
 

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