HK representatives mull over scrapping powers of district councillors

The need to scrap Hong Kong's Election Committee seats was discussed at a forum in Shenzhen, China, on Feb 28, 2021.
The need to scrap Hong Kong's Election Committee seats was discussed at a forum in Shenzhen, China, on Feb 28, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG - The powers of district councillors in choosing Hong Kong's leader should be scrapped, according to discussions hosted by the top Beijing official handling Hong Kong and Macau affairs during a two-day symposium that started on Sunday (Feb 28).

The need to scrap the Election Committee seats of more than 100 members of the district council in the Special First Committee was discussed at the forum in Shenzhen, said Mrs Rita Fan, former president of the city's Legislative Council (Legco), on Radio Hong Kong.

She said the removal of the five super district council seats in the Legco - known as "super seats" - was also reviewed. These five, among 35 professional and trade-based functional constituency seats, are elected from among nominees selected by elected members of the city's district councils.

Symposium participants also discussed ways to ensure that members of the Special Selection Committee and Legco comprise local patriots, in line with the original legislative intent of the Basic Law, she said.

Members of the Legco are part of the 1,200-strong Election Committee that votes for Hong Kong's chief executive every five years. Other members of the committee include leaders of various interest groups, such as Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress and business tycoons.

The 117 seats on the Election Committee held by district councillors from pan-democratic parties have been in the balance since sources in recent weeks have said the Chinese congress may abolish these places.

Mrs Fan reportedly said there is currently an electoral disproportionality for the five super seats, resulting in some candidates who fail to even obtain 10 per cent of the votes becoming legislators. She suggested that there should be 10 districts instead.

She added that in the early days of Hong Kong's return, the Election Committee could elect the chief executive and members of the Legco concurrently, and she hopes this system can come back into force.

Xinhua news agency reported that the symposium solicited opinions from "representatives from all walks of life" in Hong Kong on improving the territory's electoral system and upholding "patriots governing Hong Kong".

It was hosted by Mr Xia Baolong, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and .

Mr Xia, who was appointed head of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council in February last year, said on Feb 22 in his first public speech that the city should improve the "one country, two systems" principle by reforming Hong Kong's electoral system to ensure only patriots govern the territory.