A by-election in HK
31 August 2007
Sometimes you have to just laugh at the state of Hong Kong politics. This is one of those times.
Due to the death of Ma Lik, Chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and (slow) Progress of Hong Kong, we now have a Legislative Council geographic by-election on our hands, only the second one since the 1997 Handover, and the first since scandal-ridden fellow DAB member Gary Cheng Kai-nam resigned in 2000 (subsequently being jailed for abuse of office) and was replaced by the altogether more likeable Audrey Eu Yuet-mee.
In fact the DAB is about as "Democratic" as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. In what turned out to be some of his last and possibly deranged public statements, Ma denied the 4-Jun-1989 massacre in and around Tiananmen Square (whoops, there goes our mainland internet access), and he questioned how tanks could have crushed people into minced meat, suggesting that we try it with a pig. Apparently he declined to donate his body to scientific discovery and settle that point.
The hypocrisy of the DAB is stunning. They are opposed to the Hong Kong people electing their Chief Executive and all their Legislative Councillors before 2017 (a target which recedes at the rate of about 5 years for every 2 calendar years), but they expect the Hong Kong people to vote for the DAB candidate in the geographic Legislative Council elections for half of the 60-member assembly. Their slogan should be "vote for us, we oppose democracy!". Surely, if they think we are not ready for democracy, then they should not run candidates in geographic elections at all, and just stick to the 3 seats elected by trade unions in the 30 dysfunctional constituencies. There, 3 seats are elected by a total of just 519 electors, each being a trade union.
On Wednesday the Standard carried this piercing insight from the DAB:
"One of the major considerations in any election is the chance of winning", Vice Chairman Ip Kwok-him said.
As you can see, they are masters of electoral strategy. Karl Rove would be left in the dust. Meanwhile, Tam Yiu-Chung, the "newly elected" leader of the DAB (he was the only candidate) and Vice President of the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, said:
"My background is well known, yet I have also gained the trust of the business sector."
Joking, he must be. It's hard to know who has the thicker skin - Mr Tam, or latent candidate Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, former Secretary for Article 23 legislation. The woman said about democracy in 2002:
"Hitler came to power by democratic election, and he killed seven million Jews. One-person, one-vote is no panacea"
Now she has all but declared her candidacy for election. Her campaign slogan is rumoured to be "Don't vote for me, I could turn out like Hitler". In fact, her statement was deceptive - Hitler was defeated in a Presidential election but was subsequently appointed as Chancellor by the ailing President Hindenburg after backroom dealing. While Hitler's party was the largest in the Reichstag, it held only a minority of the seats. After his appointment and the subsequent Reichstag fire, Chancellor Hitler quickly set about dismantling civil liberties and democracy, before going on to absolute dictatorship.
The great thing about by-elections in Hong Kong is that it is the only time that you actually need to win the greatest number of votes in order to get elected. By contrast, in general elections since 1997, even the geographic seats are rigged into five multi-seat constituencies (ranging from 5 to 8 seats) with a weird form of proportional representation using a single non-transferable vote for party lists, so that people who can muster as little as 11.1% of the votes in an 8-seat constituency can be certain of election. The result is too many political parties and one-legislator parties.
We analysed the problems with this system in this article in 2004. The devil is in the details of this particular version of proportional representation, which mathematically favour short lists, 1-person lists and lunatics. Ironically, it's the kind of system which, coupled with the great depression and the aftermath of hyperinflation, left too many parties in the Reichstag in 1932, none with an absolute majority, and helped Hitler's rise to power.
© Webb-site.com, 2007