Research & Paper, What's New | June 17th, 2011 | 1 Comment


Submission by The Professional Commons for the

Special Meeting of the Panel on Constitutional Affairs of the Legislative Council on 18 June 2011 Regarding the

“Arrangements for Filling Vacancies in the Legislative Council”


1. The Professional Commons strongly opposes the government proposal on the arrangements for filling vacancies in the Legislative Council (“replacement arrangements” hereinafter), in which severe contradictions with the democratic course leading to dual elections by universal suffrage will be embedded. Details are listed as follows:

Dislocation of Key Principles

2. Among the criteria that the Government used to scrutinize various replacement arrangements, it is totally unreasonable to attach a lower priority to “whether it can reflect the views of the electorate over the candidates” than “whether it is consistent with the election system in Hong Kong”. It is obvious that the key design of any electoral system lies on its capability in reflecting the views of the electorate rather than the internal consistency within the system. However, the Administration put one-sided emphasis on consistency between the replacement arrangement and the existing electoral system at the expense of an effective reflection of the latest preference of the electorate. Such a proposition is indeed putting the cart before the horse. Furthermore, the “views” cited by the respective Administration’s papers not only lacked support from quantitative evidences but are also not in the criterion of respective comparison. Their justifications for the deprival of citizens’ electoral rights are surprisingly weak and unconvincing.

Choices by History deviating Public Opinion of the day

3. There has been a general understanding in the study of Politics that “public views are as ever-flowing as running water”. Election result will be no longer be valid after a particular period of time. Electors’ choices are subject to change after the lapse of time, or even overthrown with a mere caprice. Hence, election results in the past should only be perceived as an outcome of “historical choice”. In view of this, automatic replacement of seats according to past election results is incapable of reflecting the latest preference of the electorate. Given that the existing by-election mechanism is well established and is definitely a window of opportunity that reflects public views at the moment, why should we give up on this more effective and direct means of filling vacancies by a secondary option?

Inconsistencies Concerning the Attitudes of the Proportional Representation System

4. It should be highlighted that the Government is trying to despise the political wisdom of the general public, suggesting they “cast their votes on the basis of the lists which have candidates who are more well-known” rather than based on their rational decision. The Government also ignores the appealing effect of political ideas and platforms that the candidates upheld by an understanding that “in the absence of that (well-known) candidate, his(/her) list may not receive the same level of support”. Such an analogy suggests that the elected members are by no means representative of genuine will of the public. If it is really the fact that the second candidate on the same list who gets elected would suffer from a low degree of credibility, the “list representation system” under the proportional representation system should not be implemented in the first place. On the contrary, the Government has planned to expand the proportional representation system by scrapping the by-election mechanism. Such an attitude is indeed self-contradictory, therefore utterly unconvincing to the public.

Dual “Step-back” on Democratic System and Democratic Education

5. Hong Kong is gradually moving towards universal suffrage, suggesting that the political system should be more democratic. It is suggested that the replacement arrangement is inferior to the formal by-election in the reflection of public opinion. In terms of process of the political development, it represents nothing but regression. To usher in the upcoming dual elections by universal suffrage, it is indispensable of the Government to nurture democratic values amongst Hong Kong people. Unfortunately, its perverse act when dealing with filling of vacant LegCo seats suggests that it has been biased to listen to voices that oppose the existing by-election mechanism, therefore demeaning it as wasting public money in a high-profile manner and dwarfing the by-election and its arrangement as a vehicle of education of democratic values by the smear campaign of the Government. Democratic election is by all means the most direct means that realizes democratic practice as well as democratic education. Any act leading to the withdrawal of the existing by-election mechanism would result in enticing the public to ignore their democratic rights as well as their opportunities to speak out.

Conclusion: Unconvincing to the Public Due to Unfairness

6. Teaming up with lawmakers in pro-establishment camp, the Government has been unscrupulous to put forward an unfair replacement arrangement that suggests an unfair filling of vacant LegCo seats. Such a move will definitely undermine people’s confidence in the course of democratization. Even worse, members of the public will no longer respect the Administration, not to mention the legislature. Once the proposed replacement arrangement is in practice, it would be of utmost absurdity that the newly elected LegCo members could be someone who hold opposition views against their predecessor.

7. In recent years, the Government has experienced tremendous setbacks in its daily administration, particularly mounted criticisms on its alleged favoritism towards the business sectors. In fact, democracy as a political system provides institutional arrangement that facilitates free expression of opinions. By doing so, public views are more likely to be aired in a rational and peaceful manner. In the light of this, it is expected to see a higher degree of fairness in daily administration which will help boost the creditability of the Administration. However, the proposed replacement arrangement is beyond any doubt a major step-back in democratization of our election system, which will seriously dampen its fairness and legitimacy. Through solid evidence, it further consolidates the entrenched public perception that the Government is by no means fair and just.

8. If the proposal was eventually enacted by this Council, it would certainly undermine the credibility of legislators who takes up the vacant seats. Casting supporting votes to the proposed replacement arrangements is like castrating the dignity of the Council. As a consequence, LegCo in a decline will eventually be nothing but a mere accessory to the unparalleled power of the Administration and subsequently the separation of powers will be in jeopardy for sure. Those sitting in this Council who support the reform proposal would not be allowed to shift their historical responsibilities.


The Professional Commons


One Response to “Submission by The Professional Commons for the Special Meeting of the Panel on Constitutional Affairs of the Legislative Council on 18 June 2011”

  1. September 24th, 2011 at 22:27:20

    就立法會政制事務委員會於 2011 年 6 月 18 日的特別會議

    1. 就特區政府近日提出的立法會議席替補建議,本智庫表示堅決反對,認為擬議的改革建議與邁向雙普選的民主進程相違背,具體原因如後:


    2. 在特區政府評估替補議席安排的準則中,「可否反映選民對候選人的意願」竟然置於「是否與香港的選舉制度相符」之後,並不合理。選舉制度設計的優劣關鍵在於能否充份反映民意,制度的內部一致性僅屬次要。特區政府片面強調替補議席辦法要與現行選舉制度相符,甚至凌駕反映選民意願之上,根本是輕重不分。再者,政府參考文件引述的「意見」既沒有量化數據支持,更不是「替補安排準則」之一,特區政府竟據此提出剝削市民的選舉權利的建議,其理據何其軟弱及欠缺說服力。


    3. 「民意如行雲」、「民意如流水」,這是政治學的ABC。選舉結果是有時效性的,離開選舉時間愈久,選民「以今日之我,打倒昨日之我」的機會愈大,故此過去的投票意向只能視為「歷史的選擇」,與現況脫節機會相當大。根據過去的投票結果自動遞補議席,根本不能反映選民當前對候選人的意願,既然有機會掌握最新民意,透過補選讓選民直接選擇替補人選,為何放棄最有效最直接的方法而「求其次」呢!


    4. 特區政府嚴重低貶市民的政治智慧,認為市民「將選票投予擁有高知名度候選人的名單」,而不是以理性基礎決定投票意向,完全忽略政治理念及政綱的 因素,又認為「如沒有該候選人,其所屬的名單不會取得相同程度的支持」,暗示由此產生的民意代表價值甚低。既然同一名單的次席參選人即使當選也如此缺乏民意認受性,根本就不應實行名單代表制,可是特區政府卻進一步延伸比例代表制以取代補選,其取態何其矛盾,實在難以服眾。


    5. 香港正逐步邁向雙普選,政治制度理應更趨民主化。自動替補機制反映民意的程度遠低於正式選舉,從政制發展的進程而言實際上有所倒退。為迎接雙普選,特區政府在培養市民民主素質方面責無旁貸,但在處理替補議席問題上卻倒行逆施,不但偏聽反對補選安排市民的意見,高調宣揚補選浪費公帑,更刻意低調處理補選的民主教育意義。民主選舉是最直接的民主實踐,也是最有效的民主教育;取消補選,等於教導市民輕視本身所享有的民主權利,教導市民不珍惜發言發聲的機會。


    6. 特區政府及立法會內親建制派致力建立一個不公平的替補議席制度,不但削弱市民對民主化的信心,更糟糕的是市民會愈來愈不尊重政府,及不再尊重議會。擬議的替補議席辦法一旦落實,出缺議席由相反政見候選人遞補,便盡顯其荒謬性。

    7. 特區政府近年施政舉步維艱,經常被批評偏袒個別界別利益。民主制度有助人民以和平理性、制度化的方法表達意見,有助促進政府施政的公平性,進而幫助建立其權威性。擬議的替補議席方案倒行逆施,嚴重打擊現行選舉制度的公平性與合理性,勢將進一步鞏固市民心目中特區政府不公正的既有印象。

    8. 立法會倘若通過政府的建議,肯定會嚴重削弱替補議員的威信。立法會支持政府的替補方案,等同自殘,屆時立法會的聲望江河日下,助長行政獨大,破壞三權分立,歷史罪責,無可推卸。

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