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  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 1:34am
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POLITICS

Hong Kong has the most ‘ridiculous political system in the world’, says ex-official

Post-handover Hong Kong is a Sleeping Beauty on verge of being ungovernable: former official

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2014, 6:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 May, 2014, 7:56am

Hong Kong is on the brink of becoming ungovernable, and the only solution is to find the right model for electing the city's leader and legislature, a former senior official said yesterday.

Referring to the tale of Sleeping Beauty, Rachel Cartland, who spent 34 years as a civil servant, said she hoped Hong Kong could wake from "17 years of bad dreams" since the handover, and a "saner" political system was the only way to address its problems.

Cartland, an assistant director of social welfare before she retired in 2006, was addressing the Foreign Correspondents' Club on whether the city had become ungovernable, when she weighed into the debate on universal suffrage in the chief executive election in 2017.

Cartland said that when Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997, "the good godmother came forward and heaped up gifts", such as the rule of law.

"[But] the evil godmother, or perhaps she was merely being foolish, came and laid on top of the pile, the most stupid, ridiculous political system and constitution that any community in the world has tried and been forced to operate under.

"Every single member of the Legislative Council stands always poised, ready to form the disloyal opposition to a chief executive who is specifically not allowed to have a political party of his own.

"That Legislative Council is formed partly from functional constituencies, some of which are as bad as the rotten boroughs that tainted 19th-century England, with tiny electorates with their own agenda, [while] the geographical constituencies… are elected by a very odd proportional representation system, which is actually skewed in such a way as to ensure that more radical candidates have a very high chance of being elected.

"My own belief is that [problems] could be sorted out more easily in a saner system. Hong Kong is now teetering on the edge of ungovernability and the reason is the political system."

This month, the government concluded a public consultation on reform, but analysts say the city remains far from consensus.

Cartland urged officials to "come up with an electoral system that will work", and to persuade Beijing and Hongkongers that "they can live with it". "I am only hoping our fairy godmother will … wake the sleeping princess of Hong Kong from 17 years of bad dreams, to a better future in which it is not just governable, but supremely well-governed."

 

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This article is now closed to comments

XYZ
Actually, Mrs. Thatcher and Percy Craddock played a weak hand very well with the CCP holding a baseball bat over their heads. Besides, it's been 17 years. At what point shall we hold the CCP responsible for the present mess we're in? Must we re-litigate the Opium Wars and the Unequal Treaties until the end of time?
Camel
Let me remind Mrs Cartland, that when the Brits including her left, they left behind HKnese officials who became city leaders but have no clue how to do or to govern, as during their colonial Rule, the Brits never told them how to govern nor did they let HKnese participate in government assemblies were decisions were made. They let HKnese execute the orders and that is how we are best in.
AND, for the constitution, please remind me who left behind all those regularies and rules which they HKnese took to create the constitution. Who laid down the foundation for the constitution?. Beijing wasnt allowed to interfere with the constitution building nor were they allowed to say how the system should be. Believe me, I know alot of HK officials and most of them are blaming the Brits for what the HK system is now. Ridiculous how she put it as if they were the godmother. They just ruled the city and left HK and left the people without any politcal eductation nor did they let the HKnese learn what responsibility means, by denying us the right to vote and to participate in politics for over 150 years. Yes we are not able to govern this city and this is because you wanted us in this way. So please dont complain about the the reaps you sowed.
XYZ
Very sensible and forthright observations from a former civil servant whose views embody the kind of pragmatic problem-solving that Hong Kong people liked and appreciated from their government officials under the British and which we now achingly long for in vain.
.
We don't want to overthrow the CCP, for chrissakes! We just want to elect our own mayor.
.
Occupy Central with Peace and Love has my support if our idiot political masters can't get their heads out of their *rses and give us a reasonably responsive political system accountable to the citizens of Hong Kong. Is that so difficult to achieve? For them, apparently, the answer is "yes".
.
rawlie
Yes, such an evil spell that enabled Tanka businessmen to become so wealthy that they were within the top tax payers in Hong Kong in the 1870s, something which was impossible under the elitist Qing dynasty; that allowed refugees from the 'motherland' to stream over the border for nearly two decades of Mao and the 'Great Leap Forward' and during the Japanese invasion of China; that ensured said refugees (such as Li Ka Shing, a mainlander and a refugee of the Japanese invasion in the 40s), who had absolutely nothing, could become rich beyond their wildest dreams.
Yes... so evil... so, so evil! What terrible people they were. Damn their social housing and healthcare provision to hell!
Carparklee
Cartland's comment on radical candidates being elected in Hong Kong legislative council is very true. It's a very skewed system. Look at long hair and Gary F. in our council today.
honger
Yup, HK awoke in 1997 after being cast in an evil spell for 100 years by Cartland's ancestors, who made sure nothing changed - including the antiquated, undemocratic Legco and business crony system.
Ridiculous? No. Tragic? Yes.
XYZ
It's been 17 years, for goodness sake. Stop crying about the British. Grow up.
Dao-Phooy
It looks like we're headed for even more protests and demonstrations - will we become like Taiwan where citizens take to the streets and storm the legislature because the government is so out of touch with the community? So many Legco members are simply shoe-shining hacks who haven't a clue about their responsibilities. HK has become ungovernable because the system in place is insane. Chris Pattern tried his best to belatedly introduce democratic changes but if you recall the Chinese Government was apoplectic with rage and refused to allow the through train to take place. They installed the Provisional Legco to do its bidding. The reforms under Donald Tsang were a complete disaster and an own goal by HK officials as the number of Legco seats was increased to 70 and the proportion of geographical to FC seats had to be maintained thanks to the NPC Interpretation. Now we have 35 rotten boroughs and as the saying goes 'turkeys don't vote for Christmas' - so how can reform take place with a stacked Legco? Corporate votes haven't even been discussed or are we going down that route that 'corporations are people' and hence the continuation of the business sector's over representation in the electoral process? What about the joke of Mainland legal scholars pontificating on democracy and expecting to be taken seriously? Yes, there is blame all around but it doesn't detract from Ms Cartland's comments that our existing system is ridiculous.
mercedes2233
She shows great courage complaining about the system years AFTER retirement, and not when the system was being out in place. And how does she suggest that HK 'wake up from its bad dreams'? There is something very disloyal here.
53567e31-b104-458b-a6cd-350e0a320969
Hong Kong has the most ‘ridiculous political system in the world’, says ex-official Rachel Cartland. Spot on! Didn't Dame Margaret Thatcher negotiated very very successfully on behalf of the discarded British subjects for just exactly the most ‘ridiculous political system in the world’. Why for God's sake did Rachel Cartland and Christopher Patten not say so then? How disingenuous. How hypocritical.

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