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 "Moral and National Education" into a new curriculum.
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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid