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May 26, 2023
China’s proposal for Hong Kong electoral reforms could prevent a “dictatorship of the majority,” pro-Beijing Hong Kong lawmaker Martin Liao told Reuters on Saturday.
The Chinese parliament is discussing plans to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system to ensure Beijing loyalists are in charge. Hong Kong representatives, in Beijing for an annual session, say the change is necessary and desirable.
“Many people in Hong Kong are politically immature,” Liao, who sits on both Hong Kong’s and China’s legislature, said in a telephone interview.
“They think ‘one man one vote’ is the best thing, and they take advice from countries that don’t even have ‘one man one vote’,” Liao said, referring to how neither the U.S. President nor the British Prime Minister is elected by a popular vote.
The proposed changes, which include expanding the city’s Election Committee from 1,200 to 1,500 people and expanding the city’s Legislative Council from 70 to 90 seats, will make Hong Kong’s electoral system more “representative,” and less prone to “dictatorship of the majority,” Liao added.
Critics say that Beijing would be able to stack the two bodies with even more pro-establishment members, to gain the numerical superiority needed to influence important decisions such as the election of the city’s Chief Executive, leaving Hong Kong voters with less direct say in who they want to lead them.
People from new industries and services, such as information technology, telecommunications and healthcare, should be brought in as additional members of Hong Kong’s electoral collage, said Maria Tam, a senior Hong Kong politician who works with China’s parliament on matters relating to Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
People who can help Hong Kong’s youth take advantage of China’s economic development, such as through the national Five Year Plan and plan for the Greater Bay Area, should also be included, she told Reuters by telephone.
Tam dismissed concerns that the reforms, aimed at ensuring “patriots govern Hong Kong” will crimp the space for opposition.
“I don’t think it is just going to be unicolor,” she said.
“Anybody who can draw the line between themselves and those who act against the interests of China and Hong Kong would have no problem whatsoever running for election, and winning,” she said.
Tam Yiu-chung, the only Hong Kong representative in China’s top lawmaking body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said separately: “If you are not a patriot, it’s going to be hard for you to get in.”