The government's appointment of 102 district councillors on Saturday
has diluted the election victory of the democratic camp, political
academics have said.
They also agreed this would make it easier for the government to
handle the various district councils.
Lingnan University politics and sociology professor Li Pang-kwong told
MetroNews that although the number of political party appointees had
been slashed from 41 in 1999 to 21 this year, the members appointed to
the councils last week would make it easier for the government to
handle district level concerns.
"These appointed councillors are, to a certain extent, a tool with
which the government can counter the political powers in district
councils," he said. "As in the past, most of the appointees were
pro-government or persons without a clear political stance.
"In general, the appointees ensure that no district council is in the
hands of the democrats."
Of the 21 appointed members with political backgrounds, eight were
from the Liberal Party and six from the Democratic Alliance for
Betterment of Hong Kong, which was heavily defeated in last month's
Six others came from the Progressive Alliance and the remaining one
from the New Century Forum.
The new appointees, including 43 newcomers, brought the total
membership of the 18 councils to 529.
Li said the new appointees offered the government the guarantee it
needed should it require the support of district councils on
controversial policy issues.
"The relationship between the government and these appointees was
always asymmetrical. When the government wants to launch certain
essential or controversial political issues, it can turn to these
appointees for support," he said.
Anti-Appointment Alliance spokesman Richard Tsoi said the government's
appointments went against the sentiment expressed at the ballot box.
"The election turnout rate was a clear indication of the people's
views, yet the government chose to ignore them," he said.
"We noticed that the appointed members have severely distorted the
proportion of pro-democrat representation in many district councils."
However, Tsoi said democrats were not unduly concerned as the
government would pay a high price for ignoring the public at the
upcoming Legislative Council elections.
"At the district council elections, we faced and beat strong
opposition from entrenched appointed members who had already
established their community networks. As such, it will be difficult
for the newcomers to set up effective networks in the short time to
the next election.
"However, over a longer period, they will have an unfair advantage in
that they are getting financial support from the government which will
help them run for office in future elections."
As a sign of protest, about a dozen elected district councillors from
the Democratic Party staged a rally at the Central Government Offices
yesterday, while members of 7.1 People Pile put on a drama at the Mong
Kok pedestrian zone that made fun of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's
decision to appoint district council members.
Meanwhile, Basic Law drafter Raymond Wu insisted that the
appointed-seat mechanism was in line with the provisions of the SAR's
mini-constitution. He stressed it was important for the government to
maintain a balance at all levels of society.
He attacked those groups who tried to make political capital out of
the appointment system, saying they were trying to stir up public
"Certain groups want to use this as an excuse to create another wave
of public discontent," he said. "I say, go ahead and try, and we
will wait and see."
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