‘TAIPEI, TAIWAN – Hong Kong’s legislature will undergo major changes to its format and structure as a result of Beijing’s approval of a political shakeup that will expand its control over the semiautonomous city.
China’s National People’s Congress, the Communist Party’s rubber-stamp legislative body, passed a resolution earlier this month proposing the overhaul, which would make it harder for candidates from Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition to be elected.
The revamp, signed into law Tuesday by President Xi Jinping, reduces the number of directly elected seats on Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and increases the number of pro-Beijing voices.
Those seeking office will face strict vetting by a special committee, which critics expect to shut out pro-democracy forces and ensure that “patriots” govern the Chinese city.
Lee Cheuk Yan, a veteran pro-democracy activist and former lawmaker, told VOA that it’s a “disastrous act” for Hong Kong.
“I think it’s closer to the National People’s Congress, which also have the candidates before any election takes place. There will not be any more credibility for this Legislative Council in the future,” he said.
Fewer selections by public
In its current form, the Legislative Council has 70 members, of which 35 are selected every four years by popular vote from various municipal constituencies and district councils.
Under the reforms, Legislative Council seats will increase to 90, of which the public will vote for only 20, down from 35. The lawmaking body’s Election Committee, which is heavily pro-Beijing and tasked with appointing Hong Kong’s chief executive, will be expanded to 1,500 members from 1,200.
Lee said during his time as a Legislative Council lawmaker from 1995 to 2016, the aim was to gradually increase the number of seats to be filled by public elections.
“Don’t go too quick, too fast — we have to make a gradual step,” he said. “The debate was always about the speed, never about the direction. But now this time, the direction is backwards and it’s really a shock to us.”
The former lawmaker believes those seeking greater democracy will have to wait for more opportunities in the future.
“I think we have to prepare ourselves to be outside the system for some time to come, for years to come, wait it out,” Lee told VOA. “Wait for Hong Kong people to continue [voicing protest], if possible on the street, to work it out in civil society.”
Lee is due in court Thursday to learn his fate on a charge of illegal assembly in relation to pro-democracy protests in 2019. He has four cases outstanding.’https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/beijing-led-electoral-reforms-hong-kong-redefine-democracy-critics-say
The way things are going in the West this may be our future as well!