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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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