Overhaul voting for trade-based seats: David Akers-Jones

Former chief secretary calls on government to widen voting rights in functional constituencies and create a more transparent electoral system

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 5:52pm

The electoral franchise for trade-based functional constituencies should be widened in the 2016 Legislative Council election, a former top official has said.

Former chief secretary David Akers-Jones called for all qualified members of the professions concerned to be allowed to vote.

The keen supporter of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying recently completed the first two instalments of a three-part series of recommendations on the impending political reform. The changes will determine the rules of the Legco election in 2016 and the universal suffrage election of the chief executive in 2017.

Functional constituencies have been one of the focal points of the debate.

Akers-Jones, the president of the Business and Professionals Federation, said if the trade-based seats remained they must be elected through a "more transparent system" and their representations should be widened.

"For example, bankers and financial investment experts who have taken professional examinations should have votes [to elect finance-sector lawmakers]," he said, adding that this principle should apply to other trade-based seats, such as the insurance sector.

Currently, such constituencies are comprised of companies within the industries. In the 2012 Legco election, the finance sector had 128 corporate voters, while the insurance sector had 135. Candidates in both sectors were elected uncontested.

Akers-Jones also proposed breaking the five directly-elected geographical constituencies into smaller areas, representing about 250,000 people. Each area would carry one seat and the winning candidate must get an absolute majority of the votes.

Under his plan, the proportional representation system would become a single transferrable vote system, allowing voters to rank the candidates.

"Under the current system, [the lawmakers] do not represent a constituency. They are loose cannons who represent themselves and we are fed up with this system," he said. "If we do not change the electoral system, no matter who becomes the Chief Executive in 2017, it will be the same as we have now and filibustering will come up again."

Akers-Jones also urged the government to launch a public consultation on the upcoming political reforms immediately.

He rejected the administration's claim that it needs to address other issues, such as housing, first. "We can handle all these things together," he said.

He supports reducing the number of eligible candidates for the 2017 chief executive election.