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

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs