Hong Kong government names all 470 district councillors to 3 neighbourhood committees

The government said it had identified suitable candidates via various channels on the basis of the merit of the individuals concerned.

Voters check candidate information outside a polling station for the district council election last year. Photo: Dickson Lee

Factors, including a candidate’s ability, expertise, experience, integrity, commitment to serving the community and due functions to each of three committees, had also been taken into consideration.

The government added the appointment of all incumbent councillors was “to strengthen the connection and collaboration between the three committees and the district councils”, given their collaboration had become “much closer” under the revamped governance system.

Hong Kong has completed the Beijing-ordered “patriots-only” governance structure reform through overhauling the electoral system. The last piece of the puzzle was the district council election on December 10, which saw a record-low 27.59 per cent turnout for the 88 directly elected seats.

Under the revamped electoral system, the three committees, which were originally set up for better district management, have been granted more power, including both nominating candidates for the district council election and electing 176 district councillors, about 37 per cent of the total.

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The remaining district council seats were either appointed by Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu or taken by rural committee chairs.

The authorities, however, did not appoint any district councillors to the area committees in 2020, when most of the council seats were occupied by the opposition parties as they secured a landslide victory in the 2019 election.

The administration, led by then city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, explained that the district councillors had sufficient opportunities to express their views to the government regarding local livelihood matters.

The councils are statutory bodies that advise the government on district affairs. Area committees mainly promote public participation in district affairs, advise and assist in the organisation of community involvement activities and the implementation of government-sponsored initiatives.


District council polls overhaul: Hong Kong’s latest step towards ‘patriots-only’ governance

District council polls overhaul: Hong Kong’s latest step towards ‘patriots-only’ governance

Political commentator Sonny Lo Shiu-hing referred to the government’s past explanation as too “outdated” to be applied to the current situation, as it was made before the implementation of “patriots-only” governing principles.

“Having said that, the criteria of appointments to area committees could have been spelled out more clearly, like not only overlapping memberships but also gender balance, ethnic minorities representation, occupational balance and minority political views,” he said.

Political observer Lau Siu-kai said the previous term government was unwilling to see more district level organisations become political fighting grounds.

“But now with the overhauled system, district councillors should be put into the three committees in a bid to play a bridging role, connecting the councils with the committees,” he said.

District councillor Ken Fung Pui-yin of Tuen Mun East constituency said despite his workload being heavier, it was crucial to join the area committee as matters discussed would directly help his daily work.

The Post found that the 2,999 newly appointed members included at least 62 per cent of those who lost in the city’s revamped district council geographical constituency election last December.

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They include Adrianna Sung Chih-ling of the Liberal Party, Mark Chong Ho-fung from middle-of-the-road political organisation Roundtable and Sam Ip Chun-sang from the Path of Democracy think tank.

Bangladeshi-born Muhammad Fakhrul Islam, also known by his Chinese name Sun Yat-sen and who bagged the least votes in the last district council election, was appointed to Yau Tsim Mong South Area Committee.

Some returning candidates also have their serving communities changed. For instance, security firm owner Baljinder “Jimmy” Singh, who lost his election bid in Yau Tsim Mong South geographical constituency, was named a member of Wan Chai East Area Committee.

Ip from the Path of Democracy said he was notified about his new term on Tin Shui Wai North Area Committee three days ago and believed the government valued his experience in conservation.


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