My Take

It’s time our legislature reflected our self-image as an international city

If the ethnicity of Legco members were more diverse, greater sanity, common sense, moderation and experience would prevail. It would make us better people

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2016, 1:31am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2016, 6:17am

Whatever you say about our post-handover legislature, it is far more democratic than anything that existed under British colonial rule. At least half the seats in Legco are now directly elected. Under the Brits, all or most seats were appointed.

Still, there is one crucial aspect in which the colonial legislature was more representative – or rather, more racially diverse. Then, at least you had the occasional Chinese and Indians despite its sea of white faces. Their impact might have been limited, but now and then, an alternative viewpoint and advice came through.

British consul general: Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ has worked ‘incredibly well’ since 1997 handover to China

Legco after 1997 has been uniformly Chinese. This is unfortunate, as it hardly reflects the racial and nationality distribution of our demographics. Hong Kong fancies itself an international city, but you wouldn’t think that looking at the list of the Legislative Council members.

Our dysfunctional Legco is a direct result of our defective political system. But if the ethnicity of Legco members were more diverse, I believe greater sanity, common sense, moderation and experience would prevail. It would make us better people.

In fact, a more racially diverse Legco with more non-Chinese members would probably be more realistic about Beijing’s role in Hong Kong, and be less rabidly anti-mainland than some of our radical lawmakers. For otherwise, they would be accused of being racist, a charge which unfortunately cannot be applied to our localists. So even the central government should welcome it. Beijing should appreciate this better than Hongkongers, considering the National People’s Congress has official representation for the more than 50 ethnically recognised groups on the mainland.

Why democracy in Hong Kong is the best choice for Beijing

Granted, almost 93 per cent of Hong Kong’s population is Chinese. But almost 4 per cent are Filipinos and Indonesians; 0.8 per cent Caucasians; and almost 1 per cent South Asians, including Pakistanis, Indians and Nepalese. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a few lawmakers who represent these groups?

That’s why we should welcome the Hong Kong Island candidacy of Paul Zimmerman in next month’s Legco polls. It’s not just that I would rather have one more moderate democrat than a localist radical in the legislature.

I also think it would be good just to have a non-Chinese face in Legco – and the more the better. I know I am dreaming. Wake me up when the Legco elections are over.