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Occupy Central

Occupy Central is a proposed civil disobedience protest which would take place in Central, Hong Kong in July 2014 for universal suffrage. The movement is initiated by Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, in January 2013.

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POLITICS

Pay Hong Kong voters for casting ballots, Silent Majority pressure group urges

Group set up to take on Occupy Central says low turnout at elections damage democratic development and lead to polarisation

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 November, 2013, 4:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 November, 2013, 8:59am
 

Poll

  • Yes: 12%
  • No: 88%
2 Nov 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 366

Compulsory voting or cash handouts for casting a ballot can boost turnout and help make Hong Kong's politics less polarised, the campaign group Silent Majority says.

The group, formed in August to oppose Occupy Central's plan for a pro-democracy civil disobedience campaign, says the city's low voting rate is an obstacle to its democratic development.

But a political scholar linked to the pan-democratic camp has cast doubt on its ideas.

An analysis by the group found that some 5.5 million Hongkongers were eligible to register as voters, yet just 3.47 million had done so. A mere 1.83 million - one-third of those eligible - cast ballots in last year's Legislative Council poll.

"If only one-third of the people cast their votes … we highly doubt that the election results reflect the true public will," said Professor Francis Lui Ting-ming, an economist at the University of Science and Technology and an adviser to the group.

Chinese University political scientist Dr Chang Chak-yan, a co-founder of the group, believes mandatory voting will increase the legitimacy of those who are elected and help quell further divisiveness and radicalism.

"Radical parties are exhausting all means to attract votes, but [under compulsory voting] it will be of no use to them to fight, as the majority of people do not support violence," Chang said.

A system in which voters were rewarded, perhaps with handouts of HK$500 to HK$1,000, would be better than punishing those who failed to vote, Lui said.

"It will only cost the government about HK$2 billion per election," Lui said.

But City University political scientist Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, convenor of the Alliance for True Democracy, said Silent Majority was confusing the concept of "compulsory voting".

"Compulsory voting means people would be fined if they failed to vote," Cheng said. "That's the case in Australia. Giving cash handouts only increases people's incentive to vote."

The problem in Hong Kong, he said, was that the people living in middle-class areas were less likely to vote than those in working-class communities, as they did not depend on the government and believed they could solve problems themselves.

"I just don't really know how much you have to offer these well-off people to encourage them to cast ballots," Cheng said.

Speaking in a personal capacity, rather than as an alliance representative, Cheng said he did not support the practice.

Australia, Singapore and Brazil are among more than 20 countries with compulsory voting laws.

In Singapore, voters who fail to cast ballots are barred from future elections unless they pay a fine or provide a valid reason.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

carmeledwin
Maybe he will next propose that we follow the example of countries such as the Philippines, where the candidates all pay for votes? He must be joking.
Although I do vote every time, however, we should respect those who do not wish to vote. It is their own right and freedom. If you force them to vote, and they have nobody they want to vote for, what do you expect them to do in such a case? Please do not forget that there is no abstain box.
HK-Lover
Why is there an election in the first place ? Because the people shall be elected democratically . One of the most fundamental criteria of democracy is the freedom of speech and the right to cast a vote and to stand for election. This right also includes the very individual decision to participate or NOT to participate in an election.
Forcing people to participate in an election is diametrical to the spirit and idea of democracy.
East Germany (the former communist part) was always proud of a participation rate of over 96% because the people were politically blackmailed to participate. Is that what Prof. Lui is aiming at ? I would have expected a bit more from an academic who is teaching our students who shall be our future.
likingming
If it is a civic duty, fine the people who don't cast their votes.
If it is a civic right, pay the people who do cast their votes.
How about that : Give each and everyone 50 entitlement votes for their whole lifetime to vote. They can use these entitlement votes (limited up to 10 each time) for each voting / election. And these entitlement votes (still limited up to 10 each time) could be traded freely in the market. That would be more in line with the vague so-called democracy.
caractacus
Paying people to cast their votes is a thoroughly bad idea. Next you would get people selling their votes to the highest bidder.
caractacus
In Australia every citizen has to attend the polling station but is not forced to vote as one can abstain.
I see nothing wrong with viewing it as a civic duty. it is usually the people who are too lazy or apathetic to vote who complain the loudest about their government. Make them put their money where their mouth is.
hkeric
What kind of economist will spend $500t to $1000 to get one person to cast a vote that may be void or may not reflection his/her true opinion? Does he know economic is not just about money but also about efficiency and effectiveness?
warren_siu
I wouldn't mind, as long as there's a box for "None of the Candidates"! hehehe
Like who would you have voted for last year? The bumbling Henry Tang, or now our CY Leung who has a popularity rating of 41%.
HK_eh!
Politics is becoming increasing silly.
Maybe we should have a law that the brightest uni graduates are required to be in politics for compulsory 3 years service like the military. /sarc
it definitely feels (all over the world) that the **** at the bottom of the bucket end up as politicians making decisions for the 99.9% of the rest of the population because the rest of us are not interested in that.
globenet
Freedom is vote is a privilege!
Getting Paid to vote is enticement, therefore not democratic voting. It is corruption!!
It is the right of eligible voters, to not vote.
Who is this Lui guy?!
"It will only cost the government about HK$2 billion per election," Lui said." We would like to see him put up only 2billion to entice voters to vote....
Who is the Prof from CU, does he even know what democracy is ? Is his brains filled will salt water?
How can a guy like this be a professor in an accredited university and make such statements? Should a maniac like this be allowed to lecture young minds?
Money politics is the end of Democracy!!
Moreover, Singapore is not a democracy!!! It is a dictatorship.
Y would HK every want to compare herself with Singapore?
There is too much freedom in HK and people don't know what to do with it.
Very SAD!
globenet
Freedom is vote is a privilege!
Getting Paid to vote is enticement, therefore not democratic voting. It is corruption!!
It is the right of eligible voters, to not vote.
Who is this Lui guy?!
"It will only cost the government about HK$2 billion per election," Lui said." We would like to see him put up only 2billion to entice voters to vote....
Who is the Prof from CU, does he even know what democracy is ? Is his brains filled will salt water?
How can a guy like this be a professor in an accredited university and make such statements? Should a maniac like this be allowed to lecture young minds?
Money politics is the end of Democracy!!
Moreover, Singapore is not a democracy!!! It is a dictatorship.
Y would HK every want to compare herself with Singapore?
There is too much freedom in HK and people don't know what to do with it.
Very SAD!

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