09/06/2004, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Catholics criticise elections' representativeness

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – A few days ahead of the September 12 legislative elections, the Diocesan Commission for Labour Affairs has criticised Hong Kong's electoral system calling for once again direct elections for both Chief Executive Office and Legislative Council (LegCo)

In a recently published document, Lawrence An Chung-yuk, the commission's Secretary-General, noted that LegCo members representing functional sectors do not reflect the views and interests of the wider community. Consequently, he calls for the abolition of the existing system and its replacement by one based on universal suffrage.

Hong Kong's unicameral Legislative Council has 60 seats: 24 are returned by direct election in geographical constituencies (GCs), 6 are elected by an 800-member election committee and 30 are returned by functional constituencies (FCs) representing various sectors of Hong Kong society such as the finance, tourism, commerce, labour, etc., each with at least one member.

Mr An Chung-yuk is especially concerned about the lack of representativeness of the electoral colleges. On the one hand, 3.2 million voters cast their ballot for 24 GC members; on the other, some 200,000 voters elect 30 FC members. Thus, a small number of voters has a disproportionate weight in the LegCo. Added to this is the fact that 8 of the 28 FCs select their representative through their member organisations. Trade unions are a case in point for the three labour LegCo members are returned by individual unions, not individual union members.

Finally, Mr An Chung-yuk points out that FC LegCo members are not only called to decide policies affecting their respective sectors but also those involving the whole community as well. For this reason, he insists that all LegCo members should be elected on the basis of universal suffrage. And in making such a demand, he is not alone. Surveys indicate that 80 per cent of Hong Kong residents are in favour of universal suffrage as are many academics. Never the less, Honk Kong's government has vetoed such a proposal and Beijing refuses to contemplate any political reform that is not of its own initiative.

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