Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021 (2021/05/26)

Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021 (2021/05/26)

MR YIU SI-WING (in Cantonese):

Deputy President, Hong Kong can leverage on the Mainland as our hinterland and engage ourselves globally under the principle of "one country, two systems". We can enjoy the foundation of rule of law under common law as safeguarded by the Basic Law, and we have a number of clear and transparent systems, thereby enabling Hong Kong to continue to be a leading international financial and commercial centre, as well as the best tourist destination. Being the cornerstone of Hong Kong, the rule of law not only offers protection for individuals and organizations, but it also creates a level playing field for the business sector. Yet, the rule of law in Hong Kong has been under challenge in recent years. Since the Occupy Central movement in 2014, politicians from the "mutual destruction camp" have glorified violence openly, advocated publicly that "a criminal record makes life more wonderful". They instilled misconceptions into the young people to poison them. During the incident arising from the proposed legislative amendments in 2019, quite a number of people with legal background incited violent sentiments and promoted the so-called "breaking the law to achieve justice". As a result, unlawful acts of "black-clad violence" inflicting damage on society, etc. became out of control.


Hong Kong is a renowned international city with a strong focus on service industries. Be it financial services, professional services, tourism, retail, food and beverage, or transportation, all of these require dealing with people. Being humble and accommodating is the key to our past success. We would try our best to convince other people with different viewpoints by reasoning, such that people from different backgrounds can get along with others harmoniously.


However, during the disturbances arising from the proposed legislative amendments, many of those from the opposition camp have apparently turned themselves into the "mutual destruction camp" under the influence of the ideology of "Hong Kong independence". Not only did they travel abroad to solicit foreign influence to interfere in the domestic affairs of Hong Kong, but also committed unlawful and violent acts to beat up, smash and set fire on people and shops holding different political views. People would also be doxxed and subject to personal attack if they express different political views, which is an attempt to silence them. This is because those people believe in "breaking the law to achieve justice" and they would achieve their goals by hook or by crook. It makes us, Hong Kong people born and raised in Hong Kong and who have been living in Hong Kong for decades, suddenly find Hong Kong a very strange place. Especially in the second half of the year before last, it seemed that we were in a lawless place, we were always on tenterhooks and had no idea about how we could spend our days in the future. At that time, all of us could see that the SAR Government was unable to do anything. Fortunately, the State stepped in and the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress ("NPCSC") passed the Hong Kong National Security Law on 30 June last year, enabling law enforcement agencies to institute prosecution for the offences of subversion and endangering national security in accordance with the Hong Kong National Security Law. As a result, those from the "mutual destruction camp" who oppose the Central Authorities and cause disturbance to Hong Kong have either been charged for prosecution or absconded to other countries. The Hong Kong society has quickly resumed normal and stable. However, the Central Authorities also realize that this is only temporary, and that it is necessary to implement the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong" in order to ensure the long-term stability and safety of Hong Kong. Therefore, NPCSC passed the amendments to Annexes I and II to the Basic Law to fully implement the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong", resulting in the need to improve the existing electoral system. I believe that this legislative exercise will bring about several positive implications in the following aspects.


In the first place, it is conducive to the continuous implementation of "one country, two systems". Over the past 20-odd years since Hong Kong's return of sovereignty, the Central Authorities have once adopted a rather tolerant policy towards Hong Kong by allowing different political spectrums to exist under the principle of "one country, two systems". Yet, the opposition camp colluded with foreign forces in an organized and planned manner, and took advantage of the leniency of the Central Authorities to groom their agents to join the Election Committee ("EC"), the Legislative Council, the District Councils and the civil service through various channels. They promoted misconceptions through different channels, such as the media and schools, in a bid to stir up chaos in Hong Kong. In the end, they even blatantly targeted to occupy EC and the Legislative Council and attempted to seize the jurisdiction over Hong Kong through the election of the Chief Executive. This is intolerable to the State.


By improving the electoral system in this exercise to make clear the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong", it can be guaranteed that all of those who enter the governing system are patriots and supporters of the "one country, two systems" principle. Only under "one country" can Hong Kong people enjoy the advantages of "two systems" and focus on economic development and improving people's livelihood. The democratic development of Hong Kong can then be put on the right track.


Second, it is conducive to the balanced participation of all social strata. Given that the number of EC members will increase from 1 200 to 1 500, new subsectors such as small and medium enterprises, grassroots associations, associations of Chinese fellow townsmen, associations of Hong Kong residents in the Mainland, and representatives of Hong Kong members of relevant national organizations, etc. will be created in the EC constituency in this amendment exercise, thus further expanding the coverage of EC. Moreover, the number of seats in the Legislative Council will also increase from 70 to 90. Seats returned by EC will be created while a certain number of seats returned by direct elections and functional constituencies will be maintained. In the future, the Legislative Council can better represent the voices of different social strata and express their views from different perspectives during the process of political discussion and deliberation. This can avoid excessive populism and will, therefore, enhance the effectiveness of the Government in policy administration.


Third, it is conducive to the return to political reality and rational participation in politics. In the past few years, amidst the radical political atmosphere created by the opposition camp, many young people had the misconception that when participating in politics, they could move up the ladder quickly and reap political dividends by taking part in struggles and stealing the limelight, as well as making "anti-China" remarks causing disturbance to Hong Kong on social media, and they would then be elected members of the District Councils or even the Legislative Council. The misconception that the more radical they were, the better their chances of "making themselves stand out" was gradually formed as a result. They eventually resorted to "mutual destruction" as a shortcut to political success. Under the improved electoral system, elections of EC, the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive will all be subject to proper nomination procedures. The requirements of the candidates are undoubtedly more demanding, as they are required to possess basic political ethics and qualities for political participation. If young people are interested in participating in politics, they should return to reality, be rational, have the basic national concepts and social responsibility. They should put forward constructive opinions with a more objective and broader vision, so as to become political talents who are truly visionary.


Fourth, it is conducive to economic development and the improvement of people's livelihood. Over the past 20 years, Hong Kong has taken many detours amidst political disputes. Even our external competitiveness has been directly affected in recent years, and we started to lag behind some Mainland cities. In the past, many Hong Kong people had blind faith in the electoral system of Western countries, believing that winning the majority of votes was tantamount to representing public opinion. Therefore, candidates can get votes as long as they know how to stir up troubles by making use of political issues, smear the Government and promote populism. Therefore, the opposition camp has made use of the media and the Legislative Council to incite anti-government sentiments in various ways, making it extremely difficult for the Government to implement its policies. The most obvious example is the most pressing land and housing problem in Hong Kong. The former Chief Executives, except Donald TSANG, have proposed some solutions, but they were all opposed by the opposition camp on various grounds, such as environmental protection, protection of the underprivileged, etc. The problem is thus leaving unresolved for a long time. But eventually, they would condemn the Government for failing to resolve the housing problem with a view to creating public discontent.


After improving the electoral system, the relationship between the executive and the legislature will get back to the right track. The Legislative Council will no longer be a blockage impeding the Government to implement development policies. Government officials can then devote more efforts in improving people's livelihood and developing the economy. Members of the Legislative Council and EC members can focus on monitoring the effectiveness of the work of officials at all levels, and provide suggestions and advice to improve policy administration. Deputy President, as long as we can interpret "one country, two systems" comprehensively and capitalize on the existing edges of Hong Kong and the Mainland, the future of Hong Kong will definitely be brighter under the development planning of the Greater Bay Area.


With these remarks, Deputy President, I support the passage of the Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021.