News / Asia

Sunday's Election Key in Movement Toward Universal Suffrage in Hong Kong

Thousands of protesters turn out outside government headquarters in Hong Kong, September 7, 2012, to protest against the government's plan to introduce a new subject
Thousands of protesters turn out outside government headquarters in Hong Kong, September 7, 2012, to protest against the government's plan to introduce a new subject "Moral and National Education" into a new curriculum.
Ivan Broadhead
Hong Kong voters go to the polls Sunday with their government mired in controversy, not least for the attempt this week to force “national education classes” on school children.  With more seats in the legislature being decided on the basis of one-person-one-vote, the city’s pro-Beijing administration faces a challenging future as democrats look to make electoral gains before the anticipated introduction of universal suffrage in 2017. 
                                          
Sunday’s election in Hong Kong will see over half of the legislature’s 70 seats returned by universal suffrage, the remainder by generally pro-Beijing groups.  

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying attends a news conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong, September 7, 2012.Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying attends a news conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong, September 7, 2012.
x
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying attends a news conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong, September 7, 2012.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying attends a news conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong, September 7, 2012.
The vote is likely to prove a defining moment for the city’s new leader, chief executive Leung Chun-ying.

“Things have been going terribly for him.  He is now caught up in this national education controversy," said China analyst Frank Ching. "He canceled his trip to Russia for the APEC meeting, suggesting he realizes there is a crisis which he must stay to handle.  But I do not see him doing anything.” 

With anti-China sentiment growing in the former British colony, thousands of children and their parents remain camped outside government headquarters, some on a hunger strike.

They vow to remain until Leung cancels patriotism classes introduced in schools this week to promote loyalty and love for communist China.

The education stand-off is an embarrassment both for Leung and the central government in Beijing as it moves toward a leadership change.

President Hu Jintao, during a visit in July, appealed to residents to maintain unity with China as distrust of Beijing rose to levels not seen since British rule ended in 1997.

The popularity of the chief executive also has been harmed by increased corruption among politicians, as well as resentment over Hong Kong’s wealth gap, which is the widest in the developed world.

Leung’s position is not under direct threat at the ballot box - he entered office scarcely three months ago, appointed by a commission of less than 2,000 citizens, most of them pro-Beijing.

However, politics professor Michael DeGolyer of Hong Kong Baptist University says Leung's problems could boost support for pro-democracy groups.

“He has to work with these folks, who push very hard for more democracy," he said. "It is going to be extremely difficult, I think.  It is pretty clear, for the first time, that we are not going to have [pro-Beijing factions win] a reliable majority.”

Under the terms of Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty, residents enjoy greater civil liberties than do mainland residents.  And Hong Kong people have long fought for an expanded political franchise.  After rolling protests, China’s National People’s Congress indicated in 2007 that full universal suffrage could be introduced in the city before the election of Leung’s successor in 2017.

But any chance of electing every legislator on the principle of one-person-one-vote could be blocked on Sunday if pro-Beijing parties manage to capture some of the one-third of seats held by democrats.

Margaret Ng is a legislator. “This proposal for 2017 will have to be put before the legislative council in the next couple of years, and that is why this election is crucial,” she said.

China remains vague on the details of the shift toward universal suffrage.  However, as an interim step, Sunday’s election adds five new seats to the legislature.  Lam Wai Man, a politics professor at Hong Kong University, explains that all voters can cast ballots for these so-called “super seats.”

“If you are elected, this really means you are one of the five most popular politicians in Hong Kong.  These people will have greater chance to compete in future chief executive elections - if they are [ever decided by] universal suffrage,” said Lam.

While the victors could one day challenge the chief executive for his job, Mr. Leung is already fighting back, announcing a raft of initiatives in recent days to shore up support for himself and the pro-Beijing parties.

Among them is a deal with Beijing to slow the number of Chinese visitors to Hong Kong, and a plan to slow the rise in housing prices.  Late Friday night, Leung also invited students and parents to join him in discussing the future of Chinese patriotism in Hong Kong schools.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Fatima
September 08, 2012 4:34 AM
On the subject of the teaching of the 'morality and national education' course in HK;

Because there is such a strong sense of feelings towards morality and of nation in HK, what happens is nature taking its course.

But because of this strong public sentiments at home and on the street, the teaching of this subject to children below a certain age in classrooms is simply not appropriate.

It would amount to child abuse mentally and emotionally.

Good try but very painful for all parties concerned.

Please pray for the insulted citizenry, teachers, students and the hurting parents. Good will come out of it. But pray that it doesn't happen again. Don't hurt the children.

Please pray for our leaders. I suppose we are all home alone.

by: Fatima
September 08, 2012 3:23 AM
Please pray for God's Will be done for a hurting population.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More