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Overhaul abolishes district council presence

2021-03-30 HKT 16:27
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  • Overhaul abolishes district council presence
Vicky Wong reports
Hong Kong's electoral overhaul endorsed by the country's top legislature on Tuesday saw the elimination of district councillor seats from the election committee, as well as the so-called district council superseats from the Legislative Council.

The changes, which also include reducing the number of Legco seats through direct, geographical elections, were announced after a two-day meeting of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC).

The amendments to the two Basic Law annexes will come into effect on Wednesday.

The size and role of the election committee that chooses Hong Kong's leader will be expanded. The number of members will go up from 1,200 to 1,500 and they'll also nominate and pick legislative councillors in future.

While all 117 district councillor seats on the election committee will be scrapped, they will be replaced by “representatives of members of area committees”, including members of the government-appointed District Fight Crime Committees, the District Fire Safety Committee of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories, as well as representatives of associations of Hong Kong residents in the mainland.

A new, fifth sector will be added to the election committee, comprising deputies to the National People’s Congress (NPC), the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), as well as representatives of “Hong Kong members of relevant national organisations”.

Changes have also been made to the composition of some of the existing sub-sectors.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Council will be expanded from 70 to 90 members, with 40 of them chosen by the election committee.

Members of the election committee will make nominations among themselves, and the candidates who obtain the highest numbers of votes will be elected.

Thirty of the seats will consist of functional constituency members representing 28 sectors, with more than two-thirds of the sectors elected by corporate voters and the remaining ones elected by individual voters.

The total number of functional constituency seats is down from 35 at the moment.

The five seats being phased out are the district council superseats, which were introduced by the government in its political reform package in 2010 after it reached a consensus with certain factions of the pro-democracy camp.

The remaining 20 Legco seats will be chosen by eligible voters in 10 geographical constituencies, each having received the nominations of at least 10 election committee members.

Hong Kong’s sole NPCSC delegate, Tam Yiu-chung, dismissed claims that the changes represent a major regression in Hong Kong’s political development.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Tam said these changes will help Hong Kong “return to the right track” by having patriots govern the SAR. Once normality is restored, he said Hong Kong can continue to pursue democratic development.