Chaos the only winner in DAB votes move

The pro-establishment party says Hongkongers living on the mainland should be able to take part in city elections, and now the pro-democrats want the right extended to those abroad

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 June, 2018, 3:46am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 June, 2018, 3:46am

DAB lawmakers want the government to allow Hongkongers living on the mainland to vote in the city’s elections.

But if you allow that, shouldn’t the same right be extended to all those living abroad? How would that translate into voting patterns in terms of political sympathy and ideological commitments? I think it’s fairly predictable.

Call to give Hongkongers living overseas the right to vote

Since the government is encouraging Hong Kong people to work and live in the “Greater Bay Area”, Gary Chan Hak-kan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said those who do should be able to cast their votes during the city’s elections.

DAB party boss Starry Lee Wai-king has asked the government whether Hong Kong people on the mainland should be allowed to vote. Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said the government is considering it.

All well and good. But the pan-democratic opposition naturally followed up and argued the same right should be extended to Hong Kong migrants outside China. They would have a very strong argument.

Many democratic countries allow overseas votes. And naturally, if you are citizens of those countries, you would be able to vote in the electoral districts you live in, even if you can’t vote in the district you were born in.

But you say, it’s “one country, two systems”. If a Hongkonger living in, say, Guangdong, can’t vote there, he or she won’t be able to vote at all if they can’t vote in Hong Kong.

There are an estimated half a million Hongkongers living on the mainland. It’s hard to know how many Hong Kong permanent residents are living outside Hong Kong and the mainland. But the populations of Canada, Britain, the United States and Australia total an estimated 550,000 Hongkongers.

Of course, it’s hard to know how many on the mainland and overseas would actually bother to vote. Furthermore, those on the mainland may come to resent the government there, while others overseas may know about the weaknesses and dysfunctions of Western democracies.

Hong Kong rule of law, diverse economy keys to ‘Greater Bay Area’ success, lawmakers say

But by and large, it’s likely the former group would have more sympathy for China while the latter would prefer Western governing systems. Presumably it’s on that assumption the pro-government DAB wants the “mainland” votes while the opposition would demand the overseas votes.

Unless the government wants to open another political battlefront, maybe it should leave the current system alone.