Articles: Electoral reform

Webb on "Backchat" re National Security Law
RTHK, 23-Jun-2020
Getting to 601: How Beijing controls the HK Chief Executive election
Carrie Lam continues to peddle the lie that the Chief Executive Election Committee is "broadly representative", often unchallenged by foreign media. We explain exactly how it is rigged, and how with enough political courage, she could unrig it and introduce democracy through local legislation, without Beijing's approval. (28-Jan-2020)
HK's richest family urges Govt to help its hotels
Bloomberg, 16-Dec-2019
"We really need it" says Adam Kwok, son of convicted felon Thomas Kwok. What we really need is for tycoons like him to give up corporate voting for seats in the Functional Constituencies and Election Committee - including hotels, real estate and transport, all of which have corporate voters controlled by his family. 1 worker, 1 vote. This simple step would democratise HK.
Webb on the protests and how HK can democratise without NPCSC approval
Bloomberg, 9-Dec-2019
Does your candidate live where you do?
A knee-jerk amendment to the laws on nomination of DC and LegCo candidates goes too far by removing your right to know whether the candidate even lives in your constituency and/or District. We call on LegCo to amend the subsidiary legislation. (18-Oct-2019)
Govt proposes to scrap home address disclosure for DC candidatesThe 2015 nominations
South China Morning Post, 12-Oct-2019
There's no need to know the exact address, but voters have a right to know whether the candidate lives in their constituency or District or neither, as many DC's don't. So at least disclose that. We should also know exactly who is running. Without an address, that becomes harder, so instead publish HKIDs so we can check their directorships and other info without guessing which Chan Chi-Keung or John Doe is running. In the meantime, since it is public anyway, we include a link to the 2015 nominations in the Gazette.
Caterers need help in lean times: Tommy Cheung
RTHK, 12-Oct-2019
The Catering Legislator and ExCo member supported proceeding with the Extradition Bill after the 9-Jun-2019 mass rally, triggering 4 months of chaos and now wants his sector compensated for loss of business. He has disserved them and should resign. Scrap corporate voting and democratise his constituency with one worker, one vote.
'It's not about the money': What Beijing doesn't get about HK protesters
Los Angeles Times, 9-Oct-2019
Making laws via the ERO may be unconstitutional
The Basic Law establishes a clear separation of powers between executive and legislative branches. A law that allows the Chief Executive to make laws appears unconstitutional. We expect a judicial review if she tries it. Even if she succeeds, draconian laws don't address the root problem: a deficit in democratic accountability for both the CE and LegCo. We again propose local legislation to scrap corporate voting and democratise the system. (4-Oct-2019)
'Questionable' whether HK mask ban using ERO is constitutional
CNBC, 4-Oct-2019
An excerpt from an interview with David Webb this morning.
Webb on the HK protests: 'Hard crackdown likely'
CapeTalk Radio, 2-Oct-2019
Jump to 02:15 in the podcast. We again explain how to democratise the Functional Constituencies and the Chief Executive Election Committee seats by scrapping corporate voting, replacing tycoon votes with worker votes. This can be done by amending HK laws, without NPCSC approval. Without meaningful democratisation, the protests will likely continue until a hard crackdown.
New World (0017) to donate 3m sq ft of land
RTHK, 25-Sep-2019
There was no mention of a farmland giveaway in today's annual results. Having bought the land with shareholders' money, the directors should explain how giving it away enhances shareholder value. If it doesn't, that's a breach of fiduciary duty. What do they expect the company to gain in return? Is this just a kowtow to deter further government intervention, or to get permission to develop better land? Why not instead support abolition of corporate voting for the CE Election Committee and Legislative Council? No, that would be too much!
Beijing berates Li Ka-shing over protest commentsCorporate voting
RTHK, 13-Sep-2019
Perhaps now he would give up his numerous corporate votes in the small-circle constituencies of the Election Committee and LegCo and support One Worker, One Vote for those seats instead? That would be an olive branch indeed. And it can all be done in local legislation, as we explained last week.
Chinese-medicine hospital plan moves forwardGovt PR
RTHK, 13-Sep-2019
If there were 30 seats on the HK Chief Executive Election Committee for astrologers or feng shui masters then they too would get their own Government building. It is downright dangerous to deflect calls for better public hospitals by promoting pseudo-science. Govt says qualified NGOs must have at least 10 years' experience providing and managing Chinese-medicine services - but no requirement to prove that it actually works.
Webb on "Backchat" re HK protests
RTHK, 13-Sep-2019
Activist investor Webb proposes changes for HK's voting system (TV)
Bloomberg, 9-Sep-2019
A curious addition to the Transport Constituency
After yesterday's ICAC allegations of vote-rigging in the I.T. sector, should the Taxi Drivers & Operators Association still be added to the list of Transport sector voters? (6-Sep-2019)
The most likely outcome for HK
A systemically unstable equilibrium of civil liberties without democracy may have irrevocably tipped towards an authoritarian outcome. We suggest a way to salvage the situation, but we consider the most likely outcome is now a crackdown. We look at what form that might take, the possible aftermath and the looming 2047 expiry of Basic Law promises. (3-Sep-2019)
Webb on HK protests and pressure from Beijing
CapeTalk Radio, 3-Sep-2019
Webb on "Backchat" re Policy Address
RTHK, 19-Jan-2017
1539 candidates in under 4 minutes
Today, a few people are choosing even fewer people who will select HK's new Chief Executive. Our compilation shows the details of all 1539 candidates for 1034 seats, including 300 uncontested. Last time, the electorate of the 637 densest seats (lowest electors per seat) was 4,363. There is healthy competition in the largest electorates, including Education and Health Services, but the most they can hope for is to tip the balance if 2 establishment candidates run for the job and Beijing doesn't pick a winner and direct its agents from the small circles accordingly. (11-Dec-2016)
Webb on "Backchat" re Legislative Council elections
RTHK, 2-Sep-2016
A sordid electoral affair
The HK Government, via its Electoral Affairs Commission, has tarnished HK's reputation for free and fair geographic elections for half of its Legislative Council, just to exclude a few candidates who were previously on the political fringe. There is nothing inconsistent between pledging to uphold the constitution and seeking to change it, and the Government now risks the courts overturning the election results. We also explain the fragmentation caused by HK's version of the party list system which has now reached epic proportions. (17-Aug-2016)
Webb on anniversary of Umbrella Movement
CNBC, 28-Sep-2015
Let's Move Forward ad
HK Standard, 15-Jun-2015
The ad calls for the adoption of Beijing's proposal for electoral reform for the Chief Executive elections in 2017. Many of the signatories can easily be connected to Ronald and Johanna Arculli - several persons at his law firm King & Wood Mallesons, several directors at her charity Helping Hand, and directors of several companies or bodies of which he is or was a director.
Cheung Tak Wing v Communications Authority & Director of Information Services
HK Court of First Instance, 12-Jun-2015
Leave is granted to apply for judicial review of the Government's propaganda or advertisements on 2017, issued after the public consultation had closed but while LegCo is considering the Government's proposals, using free air-time for "Announcements in the Public Interest".
Yvonne Leung Lai Kwok v HKSARG
HK Court of First Instance, 5-Jun-2015
Webb on "Backchat" re democracy and economics
RTHK, 8-May-2015
NPCSC poll results: not much optimism
The results of the Webb-site Opinion Poll on "NPCSC decision - pocket or not" show that the opponents of the NPCSC proposal don't want to get stuck with it, but they don't expect a veto will produce a better offer for 2022. Meanwhile the proponents recognise that the current offer is fake democracy, but they think it is worth taking in the hope of real democracy later. (10-Feb-2015)
Beijing's 2020 vision for LegCo
In the past few days, it has become clear how Beijing plans to rig the 2020 LegCo elections to claim "universal suffrage" without losing control. This gives even less reason for legislators to approve Beijing's proposal for the 2017 Chief Executive election. (3-Feb-2015)
The architect and surveyor cartels
Webb-site finds written evidence of price-fixing and other anti-competitive practices at the HK Institute of Architects, HK Institute of Landscape Architects and HK Institute of Surveyors. But they do have 1 legislator and 30 seats in the CE's Election Committee, so when will C Y Leung activate the Competition Ordinance? (25-Jan-2015)
Webb speaking on democracy, cartels, future at HK 2047 Monitor, FCC
YouTube, 19-Jan-2015
HKGov: Basic Law factsheet change was "editorial refinements"...
HK Government, 7-Jan-2015
..."and did not involve revisions of any content and information" er, yes, except for the bits you revised, as Webb-site spotted on 18-Dec-2014. High degree of sophistry.
Webb on "Backchat" re Report on Recent Community & Political SituationThe report
RTHK, 7-Jan-2015
An aerial tour of HK's monopolies and anti-competitive practices
The slides from a presentation by Webb-site founder David Webb to the Asian Competition Forum at Polytechnic University this morning. When you get to slide 30, click the box to launch the online video. (9-Dec-2014)
Moving on from Occupy to the Central Issue
The protesters have overstayed their welcome in Admiralty. They should withdraw and set a new deadline for C Y Leung to do the right thing: send a new report to the NPCSC, recommending restoring the nomination threshold to 12.5% from 50%. That would achieve free and fair elections without civic nomination. After all, only 305 members of the 1200-member committee nominated him in 2012. A New Year's Day march should celebrate or protest his choice. Sign the petition! (7-Dec-2014)
The Joshua-Free Zone
Response from CMAB on behalf of CE to democracy petition.
2607 people have signed the petition so far, and this is all they get in response. (22-Nov-2014)
Initial response from CE's office to democracy petition
It's not too late to add your voice - sign the petition now! (6-Nov-2014)
Templar's Old Take
From the 1992 archive... (5-Nov-2014)
Chris Patten testimony to Parliament, nearly 30 years after the joint declaration (TV)
UK Parliament, 4-Nov-2014
C Y Leung on cartels and politics
YouTube, 3-Nov-2014
Templar's Take
Templar's Take
Renowned local cartoonist Templar begins a digital presence on Webb-site. (1-Nov-2014)
Delivery of petition for HK democracy
Webb-site has today delivered to the CE's Office the petition with the first 2,114 signatures. The realistic and pragmatic petition remains open for signature, so it is not too late to add your voice. The CE has an opportunity to resolve the impasse over constitutional development, move HK forward, and land on the right side of history. (31-Oct-2014)
Cha 'regrets' slaves comment outcry
RTHK, 31-Oct-2014
Don't be a slave to reform, says finance figure
HK Standard, 30-Oct-2014
Laura Cha, HK Executive Councillor and delegate to the NPC, compares HK people to slaves in America, and gets her history on their voting rights hopelessly wrong too (clue: 15th Amendment, Laura). How charming. Sadly this is the person who is steering the Financial Services Development Council - and she worries about investor confidence being undermined. How ironic.
Statement by Chief Executive's Orifice
HK Government, 29-Oct-2014
He didn't say "those earning HK$14k a month are not entitled to the rights to make nomination for the election of the Chief Executive", but he did say that if the NC was numerically representative then "you would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $14k a month. Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies". So the paraphrase is "broadly representative" of his remarks. PR lesson: when you are in a hole, stop digging.
David Webb launches online petition to press HK political reform
HK Economic Journal, 24-Oct-2014
U.N. Human Rights Committee calls for open elections in HK
Reuters, 24-Oct-2014
Broadly representative of wealth
C Y Leung tells 3 media from democratic countries that the Nominating Committee should be "broadly representative" of wealthy people, not the general public, who would otherwise wreck the economy, and explains how he has to pander to vested interests in the committee to get elected. Yet the lack of a popular electoral mandate has resulted in populist handouts anyway, as well as wasteful infrastructure spending to favour vested interests. Could a democratically nominated and elected CE really be any worse? We also look ahead to what the students should realistically be asking for tonight. (21-Oct-2014)
HK protests: CY Leung 'foreign link' claim denied
BBC, 20-Oct-2014
Conversely, there is no doubt that C Y Leung was funded by foreign interests while in office - £4m from Australia's UGL Limited.
Foreign forces behind protest movement, says C Y Leung
RTHK, 20-Oct-2014
Comment: he is insulting the intelligence and feelings of the protesters by implying that they don't actually want democracy themselves. He should stop parroting the mainland Government and start representing the people of HK.
Newsline interview with C Y Leung
Asia Television, 19-Oct-2014
Unfortunately the interviewer does not ask about the obvious step of returning the nomination threshold to 1/8 from 1/2, within the Basic Law, and allows the CE to suggest that the protesters insist on civic nomination, which the BL does not allow. A fair nomination threshold would resolve the issue.
Man arrested over web messages to join protests
RTHK, 19-Oct-2014
Hong Kong Government is using delay tactics: Webb (video)
Bloomberg, 17-Oct-2014
Webb on "Backchat" re Occupy, economy and democracy
RTHK, 17-Oct-2014
C Y Leung: we're spending HK$20bn and a vast chunk of land on sports instead of housing
HK Government, 15-Oct-2014
Displaying the Government's economic illiteracy, in a prepared speech he says: "if you divide 7 million into 20 billion, even I can come up with a figure of at least three to four thousand dollars for every man, woman and child in Hong Kong". Um no C Y, that's at least $2857, not $4000. Still a waste though. He says they "did consider using the site instead for housing units". But why do that when you can buy election committee votes from the sports sector as well as the construction sector? It's a win-win proposition.
David Webb: Hong Kong people will win democracy fight (ultimately)
HK Economic Journal, 15-Oct-2014
Ignore the argument, blame the foreigners
Is the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong really just a devious foreign plot to undermine the future prosperity of China? (14-Oct-2014)
Admiralty address
Here's the speech by Webb-site founder David Webb to the crowd in Admiralty last night. (12-Oct-2014)
Declassified secret file shines a light on China’s true intentions
The Australian, 11-Oct-2014
Webb on "Backchat" re Umbrella Movement and C Y Leung's contract
RTHK, 10-Oct-2014
The secret history of Hong Kong’s stillborn democracy
Quartz, 10-Oct-2014
A good write-up which debunks the critcism from China that "the British wouldn't let HK people freely choose their leader so why should we?". The PRC would not let them, as was made clear via a message to Harold MacMillan from Premier Zhou En-lai in 1958. Obviously giving HK self-determination would have made Chinese recovery of HK much harder.
HK Gov spits the dummy, cancels talks with protesters
HK Government, 9-Oct-2014
You have to wonder which side is supposed to be more grown up here. The CS gases on in her speech that the NPCSC decision on 2017 "must be observed", and then says that the dialogue must not be linked to whether and when the protests would stop. She seems to forget why they even agreed to talks in the first place. Is the Government afraid of open discussion? Was it all a bluff to drag things out?
One HK, two possible outcomes
HK's civic freedoms and lack of democracy are an incompatible, unsustainable combination, which is why it is alone globally in that quadrant of the grid of democracy and civic freedoms. Either we move to a democratic open society, or we join mainland China and others with neither civic freedoms nor democracy. The status quo, with recurrent protests against an illegitimate and paralysed government, is not a viable option. (9-Oct-2014)
Germany shows unity with HK protesters
An interesting speech from the Consul-General at last night's celebrations of German Unity Day. (8-Oct-2014)
Government allows secondary but not primary school classes to resume
HK Government, 5-Oct-2014
Comment: this was never really a safety issue for most schools - but perhaps Government has belatedly realised that commanding secondary schools to suspend classes actually facilitated older pupils attending the protests. Incidentally, the Government never actually issued a closure order under Section 83 of the Education Ordinance, so its official line is that schools were open all along, but classes were suspended.
Government response to HKFS' statement
HK Government, 5-Oct-2014
Comment: the government-speak of "initial contact" and "working-level preparation" sounds like foot-dragging. The "hopes" expressed by Government as to reopening carriageways are not pre-conditions to talks, and the protesters would be strategically crazy to give ground in Admiralty now - it would amount to a "surrender-then-negotiate" strategy, but they could maintain public goodwill by allowing our overpaid civil servants and political appointees to get to their offices on Monday and withdrawing from flashpoints in Mongkok and Causeway Bay, as the leaders have been attempting to do.
Patten: The HK government must listen to its people
Project Syndicate, 3-Oct-2014
Our take on this: Patten is calling for a new round of consultation and report to Beijing, not one that merely narrows down the "counterfeit start" delivered by the NPC Standing Committee. He says: "The Hong Kong authorities have gravely miscalculated the views of their citizens. Like the bad courtiers against whom Confucius warned, they went to Beijing and told the emperor what they thought he wanted to hear, not what the situation really was in the city. They must think again.
HK protests challenge supreme power organ: People's Daily
Xinhua, 3-Oct-2014
"There is no room to make concessions on issues of important principles," says the commentary on the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China.
Transcript of C Y Leung's remarks
HK Government, 3-Oct-2014
C Y Leung: "We should work within the framework of the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) and so on, so forth. Only [if] we follow the provisions of the Basic Law and the decisions of the NPCSC can we have universal suffrage in 2017." Comment: better get another decision from the NPCSC then, or these talks are doomed.
HK protests: democracy 'snatched away' - Chris Patten
BBC, 2-Oct-2014
The Federation of Students open letter to Carrie Lam
HK Federation of Students, 2-Oct-2014
Webb on "Backchat" re the pro-democracy protests
RTHK, 1-Oct-2014
In this program (at about 10m25s), we suggest a face-saving way out for Beijing: following the procedures it devised in 2004, it can say that the "Actual Situation in HK" has changed, or that it was misadvised on the Actual Situation, and the CE of HK can file a new report to Beijing on the Actual Situation, proposing retention of the 1/8 nomination threshold that allows genuine choice. Beijing could still reserve the power to reject the elected candidate.
John Simpson's reflections on Hong Kong
BBC, 1-Oct-2014
"Universal suffrage means what it says on the tin" - UK Deputy PM Nick Clegg
The highway guide to the Umbrella Movement of 2014
What's going on in HK? Here is our quick illustrated guide. Note 12-Oct-2014: we've amended the title from "Revolution" to "Movement" - as this subsequently emerged as the more accepted name for the pro-democracy protests. (29-Sep-2014)
Definition of the day: HK Electric
The Struggle for Hong Kong
Economist, 6-Sep-2014
Soon, we can all be rubber stamps
Our take on yesterday's command from Beijing. (1-Sep-2014)
C Y Leung speaks: soon we can all be rubber stamps, not just 1200 of us
HK Government, 31-Aug-2014
David Webb "In Conversation" with Stephen Davies
RTHK, 17-Jul-2014
This show was recorded on 12-Jun-2014.
Vote for chief executive must be wide open, says Regina Ip
South China Morning Post, 24-Aug-2013
"She told the South China Morning Post the dividend brought by universal suffrage, such as a stronger mandate for chief executive, would be lost if the electoral or nominating methods were rigged to rule out some candidates."
Pan-democrats should run for top job, says Fred Ma
South China Morning Post, 16-Aug-2013
"Ma said effective political reform could act like "medicine to cure" the present political climate. Barring pan-democrats from running in the next election would only weaken the effectiveness of reform, he argued. "After all … [Democrat] Albert Ho Chun-yan was allowed to run [last year]," he said."
Interview with David Webb
HK Magazine, 7-Mar-2013
Webb on "Backchat" in Basic Law quiz
RTHK, 31-May-2011
Issues covered include exemptions from jury service, the right of non-Chinese and Chinese with right of foreign abode to run for LegCo election, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or religious belief, and legal aid for refugee applicants.
Party finances in HK
Which is the wealthiest political party in HK? The answer may surprise you. We publish the accounts of the four main parties for their last two financial years, which go some way towards explaining the hand-to-mouth existence of several of the parties, and the lack of any coherent policy platforms in the pro-democracy camp. This is largely a result of the electoral voting system which divides and conquers them, countered by the secretive funding of the biggest-spending party. (7-Mar-2011)
Chan Yu Nam & Lo Hom Chau v Secretary for Justice
HK Court of Appeal, 7-Dec-2010
The Court of Appeal rejects a challenge to the constitutionality of corporate voting in functional constituencies, in essence because corporate voting was already around when the Basic Law was drafted, and Article 26 was not intended to make the voting right exclusive to permanent residents.
Webb on "Backchat" re market reforms, tycoons and the political structure
RTHK, 31-Mar-2010
Webb on "Backchat" re David Li
RTHK, 19-Feb-2008
David Li Kwok Po resigns from Executive Council
HK Government, 16-Feb-2008
Letter to Donald Tsang editor David Webb has written to Hong Kong's Chief Executive with the results of our opinion poll on whether David Li Kwok Po should leave the Executive Council. (15-Feb-2008)
Resign, Mr Li
Early today HK time, avoiding local press coverage, the US SEC announced David Li's HK$63.2m settlement of charges of insider tipping in the Dow Jones case. We call on him to do the honourable thing and resign as a member of Hong Kong's cabinet and legislature. (6-Feb-2008)
Listen to Donald Tsang on democracy and the Cultural Revolution
RTHK, 13-Oct-2007
A by-election in HK
We take a look ahead to the forthcoming by-election in Hong Kong, and marvel at the hypocrisy of the DAB and Regina Ip. (31-Aug-2007)
Complaint to the Ombudsman editor David Webb has filed this complaint with the Ombudsman regarding the black-out of addresses of individual election donors, which makes it impossible to identify many of them by their incomplete or non-unique names alone. (8-May-2007)
Don's Donations discovers a Government black-out on details of political donations, breaking its own law and making it difficult to identify individual donors who financed Donald Tsang's campaign in the recent pseudo-election. Despite this, by careful analysis we have been able to estimate who were the leading donors, several of whom used dozens of unlisted subsidiaries or obscure executives to mask the scale of their contributions. We call for campaign finance reform to cap individual donations and ban corporate sponsorship. (7-May-2007)
Government proposes abolition of appointed DCs by 2012 or 2016
HK Government, 19-Dec-2005
20% of 70 is not 12
A little-noticed provision of the Government's constitutional proposals seeks to contravene the Basic Law by restricting the percentage of legislators who can hold right of foreign abode to less than that provided by the Basic Law. If the proposal proceeds into local law, then we will consider bringing a judicial review. Ironically, when it suits them, the Government proposes a percentage nomination criterion for the Chief Executive rather than the absolute number in the Basic Law. (30-Nov-2005)
Corporate Voting in HK Elections
In our first article leading up to the march for universal suffrage on Sunday, we look at the failure of HK's Government to abolish the small-circle corporate voting system which secures business dominance of the Functional Constituencies and a veto in LegCo. We illustrate it with an investigation of the Transport constituency electorate. (28-Nov-2005)
Rethink on district council seat issue
HK Standard, 15-Nov-2005
Appointed district council seats to stay
HK Standard, 5-Oct-2005
One Vote, Wrong System takes a close look at the unfair form of proportional representation practiced in Hong Kong's geographic constituencies. As we will show, the devil is in the details, which mathematically favour short lists, 1-person lists and lunatics. The system also excludes candidate choice within parties and wastes a lot of votes. We make several proposals for electoral reform, the best of which would be a Single Transferable Vote system. (24-Sep-2004)
Why you should march for democracy
If you are a market professional or investor, wavering on whether to join the march for democracy on July 1st, and wondering whether it is a waste of time, then this article is for you. The choice you make now will affect the future prosperity of Hong Kong. (25-Jun-2004)
March for your Rights on July 1
We're getting to the root of Hong Kong's governance problems - urges all investors and market professionals to join the 1-July march, the background to which is as much about the need for universal suffrage under Article 45 as it is about state security under Article 23. (30-Jun-2003)
2007 & HK's Future
Your editor addressed the Legislative Council's Constitutional Affairs Panel today, on the question of universal suffrage for the election of Hong Kong's Chief Executive in 2007. We urged the Government to stop dragging its feet and implement a free market in policy-makers through the ballot box. (16-Jun-2003)

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