Generation 40s – 四十世代

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Hong Kong’s silent majority must make their voices heard, and their by-election votes count

CommentInsight & Opinion
2018-02-08

Michael Chugani says the upcoming Legislative Council by-elections are a contest over who lays claim to the voice of Hong Kong. It’s time for the ‘silent majority’ to make itself heard through its votes

Are you out there, silent majority? If yes, why so silent? Maybe you’re just a myth. If not, then speak up or we’ll have to accept that the loud and angry voices of protests which bombard us daily represent the vocal majority.

These voices say the government connived with Beijing to disqualify Agnes Chow Ting as a Legislative Council election candidate. They say putting parts of the express rail terminus under mainland control exposes locals to China’s authoritarian laws while still on Hong Kong soil. They say the government persecuted three young activists by seeking jail terms for their storming of government headquarters, which triggered the Occupy protest. And they applaud American congressmen who nominated the trio for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Are they the true voice of Hong Kong? Or is Hong Kong’s true voice that of those who say Chow deserves to be disqualified, Hongkongers have nothing to fear from joint immigration at West Kowloon, the trio who stormed government headquarters should have been jailed and US politicians should have waited until April Fools’ Day to nominate them for a Peace Prize?

I must say I chuckled at the outrage over Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. It’s just political theatre by US lawmakers, for goodness sake. I know because I have covered Washington DC for years. The trio have as much chance of winning as I have of becoming Hong Kong’s next chief executive. But the eruption of anger, including from Beijing, has eaten right into the hands of the China-bashing lawmakers who are just loving it.

Protesters attend a rally in August 2017 after a court ordered Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow to be sent to jail for their role in the Occupy protests in 2014. Photo: APIf US lawmakers can nominate, what’s to stop China’s lawmakers from doing the same? They have every right to, since members of national assemblies are among the eight categories of people eligible to nominate. Those who are seeing red over the trio’s nomination can ask Hong Kong members of China’s National People’s Congress to make their own nomination. I suggest Robert Chow Yung, co-founder of the Silent Majority for Hong Kong, which was set up to counter the Occupy movement. The trouble is that, while the Occupy uprising is still romanticised by many locally and globally, Chow’s Silent Majority has long slipped into silence and therefore from the minds of most. And while some here and in the West have bestowed the heroic status of political prisoners on the Occupy trio for having served a few weeks behind bars before winning their final appeal against jail terms on Tuesday, those who opposed Occupy have not proclaimed a hero among them.

Do Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Alex Chow and Agnes Chow speak for the majority of Hongkongers? Or is the true voice of Hong Kong lurking out there, waiting for the right moment to make itself heard?

If the silent majority as defined by Robert Chow really does exist, there is no better moment than March 11 for it to be seen and heard. That’s when Hongkongers will vote in by-elections to fill four of the six seats left vacant by disqualified opposition legislators for improper oath-taking.

I can’t understand why there is never any real mud-slinging by Legislative Council election candidates. Why aren’t elections fought over who supported and opposed the Occupy uprising, the Mong Kok riots, the foul-mouthed oath-taking by some, and who is to blame for Beijing’s tightening grip on Hong Kong? If candidates fight dirty over these issues, the winners and losers will clearly show which side represents the true voice of Hong Kong.

It’s the final call for the silent majority. Show yourself on March 11 if you exist or forever keep silent. If the opposition handsomely wins back the four seats, then the true voice of Hong Kong belongs to those who storm government buildings, advocate self-determination and lace oath-taking with expletives.

Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong journalist and TV show host

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Hong Kong should waive the debt of disqualified lawmakers, following Australia’s example

CommentInsight & Opinion
2017-12-08
Grenville Cross says the practice in Australia of not pursuing the debt of ejected parliamentarians – provided they have discharged their duties ‘in good faith’ – offers Hong Kong a way forward

Although the president of Hong Kong’s legislature, Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, says the Legislative Council Commission acted on legal advice in seeking the full repayment of salaries and allowances from four disqualified lawmakers, the advice has been queried in some quarters.

The fact remains that the disqualification of Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu Chung-yim meant that their original election was void. As such, they were disentitled to the sums paid, and the commission is within its rights in seeking their return, however imprudent that course may be.

But this is not its only course.

In October, several lawmakers in Australia, including the deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, also lost their seats. The Australian High Court decided they were ineligible because they were dual nationals, which is constitutionally prohibited. As the ejected lawmakers had already taken part in parliamentary proceedings for over a year, the repayment of salaries and entitlements would, if enforced, be a significant burden for them.

A similar situation also arose in April, when the High Court – for constitutional reasons unrelated to citizenship – found that Senator Bob Day had not been validly elected in 2016. Although the question of repayment arose, the responsible minister, Scott Ryan, said it would be unfair of the government to pursue the debt, given that Day had discharged his senatorial duties “in good faith”.

In Australia, the convention is to waive such debt. Ousted parliamentarians are given two options: pay up or apply for a waiver from the government. Provided there is no evidence of bad faith, the application of a waiver will normally be granted.

In Hong Kong, the four lawmakers seemingly acted in good faith in the Legislative Council after they were sworn in. Although they took their oaths in an irregular fashion, with two being required to retake them, they were all nonetheless ultimately seated. By contrast, the extreme antics of two other lawmakers, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, at their oath-taking resulted in them being excluded altogether.

The four seated legislators would have assumed that they had been accepted as Legco members.

In these circumstances, the Australian approach provides valuable guidance for the Legco commission, which should now reconsider its demands in light of it. This, after all, was not a case in which someone tricked their way into Legco, as happened in 1985, when Tai Chin-wah, having falsely represented himself to be a solicitor, was elected to the chamber. He was unmasked six years later.

There can be no possible objection to the commission enforcing repayment of the debts owed by Sixtus Baggio Leung and Yau, whose abusive conduct violated basic norms. Their four colleagues, however, were not in that category, as the Legco president himself accepted. Ejection from Legco is itself a severe sanction, and basic fairness requires the waiver of the debts.

If, however, this does not happen, it is fanciful for people to suggest that Legco proceedings in which the four participated should be retroactively undone. Even if feasible, this would produce chaos.

In 1907, the Australian High Court resolved this very issue when it ruled that votes on legislation remain valid, even if a parliamentarian is subsequently deemed to have been invalidly elected, and this remains good law. As the judgment put it, “the proceedings of the Senate as a House of Parliament are not invalidated by the presence of a senator without title”.

Grenville Cross SC is a criminal justice analyst


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愈年輕愈投本土/自決派一票

明報
筆陣
2017-05-11
蔡子強、陳雋文

上個星期(5月4日),通過整理選舉事務處公布的立法會選舉投票數據,點出近年年輕人投票行為模式的兩大重要特徵,分別是:

一、在雨傘運動之後,年輕人無論在區議會選舉或立法會選舉,投票意欲都有明顯的上升,尤其是立選,投票率增幅尤其驚人,遠高於中年及老年人的增幅;

二、年輕人對立法會選舉的投票意欲,要遠遠高於區議會選舉。

今個星期,通過整理兩個於2012年及2016年立法會選舉後所作的研究,再點出年輕人投票行為模式的另外一些重要特徵。

<u>愈年輕愈投票泛民 愈年長愈投票建制</u>

表1是我與同事馬嶽及前同事黃鶴回兩位教授,在2012年立法會選舉後所作的一個研究當中的部分數據。

當中可見,這些數據所呈現出來的圖象,與大家的常識脗合,那就是愈年輕的人,愈會在選舉中投票給泛民;相反,愈年長的人,卻愈會投票給建制派。在青年(18至39歲)組別,有差不多三分之二的人投票給泛民,與投票給建制的,相差42個百分點;至於中年(40至59歲)組別,雖然投票給泛民的仍然佔多,但差距已經明顯收窄,只餘7個百分點;到了老年(60歲或以上)組別,情况更出現逆轉,投票給建制的已經反佔多數,而且多出近12個百分點。

青年人初出茅廬,尤其是剛離開學校(當中相當比例指的是大學),仍比較理想化,心態上仍是比較嚮往民主、自由、人權等理念,對權威反感,因此投票時,也較鍾情民主派;至於建制派那套保守政治論述,不易聽得入耳,亦因此很難投建制派一票。

但中年人要「撐起頭家」,需面對生活壓力,供樓、畀家用、照顧高堂、負擔子女教育開支,慢慢就變得比較現實,亦更易接受建制派強調安定、繁榮、和諧的那套保守政治論述,於是也有不少人投建制派一票。

到了老年人,隨着步入暮年,他們不單心態上變得比中年人更保守,更抗拒轉變以至「激烈」的東西,且很多早年未有機會接受良好教育,對民主、自由、人權等理念比較「無感」,且大多數是早年大陸移民,較易被「愛國」、民族主義那套打動;最後,更是建制派「蛇齋餅糭」政治攻略的主要市場所在,於是更大比例的投建制派一票。

<u>那麼本土/自決派出現之後又如何?</u>

2012年立選,本土/自決派仍未成氣候;但到了2016年立選,卻變得來勢洶洶,他們甚至聲言要與傳統泛民、建制「三分天下」。那麼不同年齡層,尤其是青年人,他們的投票取向又出現了怎樣的變化呢?

表2是港大民意研究計劃在2016年立法會選舉後所作的一個研究當中的部分數據。

當中可見,在青年組別,投給「泛民+本土/自決派」的,與2012年那個研究一樣,都是佔了三分之二左右,且有所上升,由上屆的64.8%,上升至今屆的67.58%;相反,愈年長的人,卻愈會投票給建制派,到了老年組別,情况更出現逆轉,投票給建制的已經反佔多數,同樣多出近12個百分點。

但更重要的是,如果我們把「泛民+本土/自決派」分拆為溫和泛民(民主黨、公民黨、工黨、民協等)、激進泛民(人社同盟)、本土/自決派(熱普城、青政、眾志等)三大板塊,我們更能仔細看到青年人的投票取向。

<u>青年人對本土/自決派尤為鍾情</u>

從表2中可見,青年對本土/自決派最為鍾情,三成人投票給他們,冠於所有政治板塊;如果把「激進泛民+本土/自決派」合併來計,更進一步高達四成多,高於溫和泛民的兩成半,更遑論建制派的不足兩成。

這和大家的常識脗合,那就是青年人是本土/自決派的主要票源,最為鍾情本土、自決及其他激進政治主張,最為躁動不安、急於求變,易為這些激進政治力量所動員和吸納。相反,老年人卻對他們最為抗拒,亦最少投票給他們,只有5%。

我相信有讀者會問,前述我們在整理數據時,把年輕組別定為18至39歲,但如果進一步收窄為18至29歲,那就是真的剛離開校門最年輕熱血的那個年紀,情况又如何呢?表3我們整理了有關數字。

從表3中可見,我們看到情况更加一面倒,18至29歲這群人,有高達八成支持「泛民+本土/自決派」!他們更對本土/自決派最為鍾情,四成人投票給本土/自決派;如果把「激進泛民+本土/自決派」合併來計,更進一步高達五成,即是每兩票就有一票投給他們!

這似乎真的應驗了一句:愈年輕,愈激進。

(本文部分數據由港大民意研究計劃提供,特此鳴謝港大民研計劃以及鍾庭耀和Edward Tai)

(傘運前後年輕人的投票模式剖析 三之二)

2016


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傘運前後年輕人的投票模式剖析/

明報
觀點:筆陣
2017-05-04

文﹕蔡子強、陳雋文

過去一年,筆者在本欄分別撰文,以2015年區議會選舉及2016年2月立法會新界東補選的投票數據,來看看一個大家都關心的課題,那就是:雨傘運動後,年輕人的投票意欲有否改變?

結果發現,以區議會選舉而言,縱然2015年比2011年有所上升,但年輕人的投票率仍然遠低於長者,即年輕人的投票意欲要低於長者。同時,年輕選票佔全港整體選票數目的百分比,亦同樣低於長者,即年輕選票的影響力亦低於長者選票。

那麼立法會選舉又如何?在新東補選中,相對2015年區選,年輕人的投票率出現了勁升,反而老年的卻有所下跌;同時,年輕選票佔整體選票的百分比,亦超越了長者,即年輕選票的影響力大過了長者選票。

當然以上說的只是一次補選,未必作得準。那麼到了正式立法會選舉又如何?

較早之前,選舉事務處終於公開了今屆立法會選舉的投票數據,但近幾個月,筆者都忙於在本欄撰寫有關特首選舉的文章,到近日才有空整理數據,再結合上屆立選以及兩屆區選,共4次選舉的投票數據,終於可以勾畫出一個比較全面,比較雨傘運動前後香港不同年齡層的投票面貌。且在這裏與大家分享。

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如果細閱表1,就年輕人的投票行為模式而言,我們可以察覺到兩大重要現象:

傘運後年輕人投票意欲明顯上升

首先,在雨傘運動之後,年輕人無論在區選或立選,投票意欲都有明顯的上升。年輕人(18至40歲),以區選而論,傘運前的投票率是30.83%,傘運後則是37.6%;至於立選,傘運前的投票率是48.52%,傘運後更升至57.72%!增幅尤其驚人,遠高於中年(41至60歲)及老年人(61歲或以上)的增幅。

這反映了,雨傘運動確實減低了過去年輕人的政治冷感,讓他們較以往更加關注政治與選舉,投票意欲有所增強,收窄了與中年及老年人間的差距。

當然,這裏只看到傘運後一屆區選和立選的數字。大家會問,隨着時間過去,傘運慢慢丟淡,年輕人的投票意欲會否逐漸「打回原形」?還是,年輕人的投票行為已經出現了根本轉變?這便要假以時日才能夠有答案。

年輕人立選投票意欲遠高於區選

其次,年輕人對立法會選舉的投票意欲,要遠遠高於區議會選舉。年輕人在2011年區選的投票率,只有30.83% ,但在緊接的2012年立選,卻升至48.52%;在2015年區選的投票率,只有37.6%,但在緊接的2016年立選,更升至57.72%!

雖然,中年人和老年人,同樣是對立選投票的意欲要高於對區選,但兩種選舉間的差距,明顯沒有年輕人的那麼顯著。

我相信這反映了幾點:

(1)年輕人對地區事務的興趣,遠遠不及對政治或社經等中央議題的興趣,因此影響了他們在區選的投票意欲;

(2)再者,立選有更多他們想投票支持的候選人,如「傘兵」、本土自決派、年輕候選人等,讓他們也更踴躍投票(這方面且留待下星期再詳細剖析);以及

(3)年輕人還未養成一個每次選舉都去投票的穩定習慣,因此即使今次在立選投了票,並不意味他們下次區選時,會自動走入票站。

順帶一提,以青年、中年、老年3個年齡層來說,以老年人的投票習慣最為穩定,無論傘運前後,以及兩級議會間,投票率的差異都最小。

年輕選票在立選較區選影響為大

那麼,年輕選票究竟在本地選舉所起的影響有多大?能否左右大局?究竟是年輕還是中年抑或是老年的選票比重較大?在兩級選舉是否有所不同?要回答這些問題,且讓我們再看看有關數據。

從表2可見,在2015年區選,年輕人的選票只佔整體比重的四分之一(24.77%),不單低於中年所佔的四成(42.12%),亦低於老年所佔的三分之一(33.11%);但到了2016年立選,情况卻有所逆轉,因為其投票率的飈升,所以選票佔整體比重也上升至接近三分之一(30.87%),雖然仍低於中年所佔的四成(40.46%),但卻已追過老年所佔的不足三成(28.67%)。

所以簡單來說,中年選票是選舉中所佔比重最大,最左右大局的一塊,無論兩級議會選舉,也都如此。至於年輕及年老選票,表現卻並不如此一致,在兩級議會選舉有所不同,後者在區選佔優,相反前者卻在立選反壓過對方。

再加上立選採用比例代表制,兼且是最大餘額法,因此只要拿到一成甚至是幾個百分點選票,便大有可能拿到一個議席。因此,年輕選票在立選更有可為。

至於年輕人又究竟較傾向在立選中投票支持哪些政團和候選人?是否真的是激進民主和本土自決派?因篇幅關係,留待下星期再談。

(二之一)

[蔡子強、陳雋文]


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Six ways a coalition would be a winning combination for Hong Kong

CommentInsight & Opinion
2016-12-05
Keith Hui explains how an inclusive administration would give both opposition parties and voters a real voice and stake in making the government work

 

A coalition government would increase the space for political compromise, in the sense that the chief executive would have plenty of bargaining chips (policy bureau posts) to negotiate with sensible political parties to engage in policymaking for long-term stability and prosperity. Illustration: Craig StephensHong Kong’s chief executive should consider upgrading the “principal officials accountability system” – introduced by Tung Chee-hwa in 2002 to appoint illustrious worthies alongside administrative officers to take up policy secretary posts – to an inclusive “coalition government”.

Recruiting more lawmakers ­affiliated with the major political parties, including the Democratic Party, to join such a coalition cabinet would offer a chance to solve the present political conundrum.

Coalition governments are common in Europe; many countries there have had a proportional representation mechanism for decades. For example, the current German government, named as the third “grand coalition” since the second world war, is composed of Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and the Social Democrat SPD, thus securing a dominating majority (504 of 598 seats) in the 18th Bundestag.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for a regional conference of her Christian Democratic Union party in Heidelberg on November 28. She leads the third “grand coalition” government in Germany since the second world war. Photo: EPA

There would be at least six advantages from having Hong Kong lawmakers, from both functional and geographical constituencies, and district councillors appointed to the position of chief secretary and more than half the ministerial posts (including deputy and assistant ranks) inside the 13 policy bureaus.

It would mean more politicians like Undersecretary for the Environment Christine Loh Kung-wai, Transport and Housing Secretary Anthony Cheung Bing-leung; and Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Undersecretary Ronald Chan Ngok-pang inside the government.

The first advantage is that the chief executive would have more flexibility to negotiate with all those who faithfully support the “one country two systems” principle and recognise China’s unquestionable sovereignty over Hong Kong, so as to command a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council.

The recent oath-taking saga has revealed the Democratic Party’s consistent position in staying firmly away from the independence movement advocated by localists. The Democrats, in fact, had an excellent track record under the leadership of the late Szeto Wah for their patriotism as well as willingness to compromise with the government on many fronts. Moderates such as Fred Li Wah-ming and Sin Chung-kai would be ideal candidates to join a coalition government (after nominally resigning from the party) to represent the Democrats.

Fred Li would be ideal for a coalition government. Photo: Edmund SoThe more radical section of the party may disagree with such a move. However, unless they want to remain an opposition party forever, being assimilated into the coalition government is the only way to realise their goals regarding, say, social welfare and labour protection. In other words, only if the Democratic Party is willing to join a coalition government can it turn itself into a genuine political party.

This also applies to parties such as Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee’s New People’s Party, the Liberal Party and the various groups within the functional constituencies. This is actually the second advantage of a coalition government, in that it provides a formal channel for parties to attain governing power under certain conditions, thus fulfilling their ambition to become policymakers.

Also, as these politicians have the chance to analyse issues from both sides, they would tend to be practical rather than radical, realistic rather than idealistic and pragmatic rather than hypocritical.

The third advantage would be evoking the general public’s sense of belonging, security, achievement and closeness to the government, given that a certain number of politicians elected by the public would now be working as policymakers to initiate concrete action to improve their livelihoods.

Furthermore, if this happened generation after generation, voters would tend to distance themselves from radicals who could paralyse the legislature. Any sensible voter would always prefer those who can actually take care of their interests over those who merely provide lip service.

The fourth merit is that there would be no need to amend the Basic Law. The chief executive would continue to have all the necessary discretion, subject to Beijing’s approval, to appoint people to fill various posts, at certain ranks, while deciding how long they should serve. Professionals and civil servants could still be appointed to take up posts as, say, secretary for justice, security, financial services and the civil service. These non-politicians would counterbalance the influence of their political peers, when necessary, through budgeting or voicing realistic concerns.

Moreover, in a case where a secretary committed a serious mistake, immediate resignation would still be an option to help relieve pressure on the government.

The fifth advantage, and the most important one, will be increasing the space for political compromise, in the sense that the chief executive would have plenty of bargaining chips (policy bureau posts) to negotiate with sensible political parties to engage in policy implementation for long-term stability and prosperity. This could alleviate confrontations between the establishment and opposition parties. This is also how coalition governments work in many countries.

In the wake of the independence movement, the chief executive needs to spend more time improving mainland-Hong Kong relations. The chief secretary should therefore shoulder more responsibility to oversee internal affairs, from housing policy to legislation on Article 23. Appointing a popularly elected person to take up this position and lead the coalition government could open more gateways for cooperation among reasonable political groups for a consensus. This is the sixth advantage, so that political pressure is not overly concentrated on the chief executive.

Without a breakthrough, Hong Kong might have to rely on selling souvenirs to make a living soon.

Keith K C Hui is a Hong Kong-based commentator