Scarlett Pong Oi-lan says the SAR’s upgraded Election Committee is like a silver lining at a time of darkness
Voters line up at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai to cast their ballots in the 2021 Election Committee Subsector Ordinary Elections on Sept 19, 2021. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)
After the outbreak of social unrest in June 2019, a year of unprecedented social instability and chaos followed, which became the catalyst for the promulgation of the National Security Law on June 30, 2020, to uphold the safety and security of Hong Kong. The passing of a decision in March 2021 by the National People’s Congress of China to effect change on the electoral system did ensure patriots administrating Hong Kong. It is like a silver lining at a time of darkness.
As one of the longest-serving members in the Election Committee since the second Chief Executive Election, I was able to witness the election of chief executives of different terms of office. The first chief executive was selected by the 400-member selection committee in 1996, and subsequently, the Election Committee changed its scope and increased to 800 members. In 2010, the committee increased its size to 1,200 seats. At times, the primary role of the Election Committee was only to be responsible for the election of candidates for the Chief Executive. However, under the improved electoral system in effect since March 2021, the Election Committee is responsible for electing the chief executive and part of the members of the Legislative Council, as well as nominating candidates for the chief executive and LegCo members and other ad hoc matters.
The implementation and execution of the National Security Law, the reform of the election system and the enactment of the oath and declaration requirements of the civil servants have facilitated the restoration of Hong Kong to its normalities.
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When the improved electoral system was introduced, some people were critical that the 2021 Election Committee would operate within a “small circle” with a pro-Beijing and pro-business composition of members. I totally disagree.
As a prerequisite to taking part in the Election Committee contest, the candidates need to be nominated by five corporate or individual voters in their respective subsector before running in the Subsector Ordinary Elections. In the case of the Medical and Health Services Subsector, in the past, they held 60 seats, with a split of 30 seats each for the Doctors/Dentists and Health Services Sector, respectively. Under the new electoral system, the Medical and Health Services sector holds a total of 30 seats. Out of these 30 seats, 16 are allocated to the Appointed Persons, with the remaining 14 seats open for contesting by 24 very capable, talented, and pragmatic candidates with the main focus on the development of our sector as well as the whole community. The competition was fierce in the Medical and Health Services Subsector Ordinary Election. To excel in the election, the election platforms presented by all candidates were of a very high standard and extremely practical. The corporate voters in our subsector had very high expectations of us and our communication was both inspirational and professional. They raised concerns on the most significant issues that must be addressed by the government for the benefit of the public.
In the past, regardless of the viability of election platforms, the votes were usually seized by the majority group of the same political color. Candidates of the minority group had limited or even no opportunity to win out. We are thrilled that the 2021 Election Committee Subsector Ordinary Elections were held successfully with the voting process conducted in a fair and honest way.
Over the past decade, the operations of many government bodies at different levels have become politicalized, and even worse, the covenant of meetings was paralyzed. The implementation and execution of the National Security Law, the reform of the election system and the enactment of the oath and declaration requirements of the civil servants have facilitated the restoration of Hong Kong to its normalities. We are hopeful that the Election Committee will play an important role in selecting and electing candidates of a high calibrewho are competent and accountable to lead and serve the Hong Kong community and our country. As a result of the social instability and the economic downturn due to the current pandemic, we do need to catch up and hold hands on the road to recovery.
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United we stand, divided we fall. We have tremendous support from our motherland. We should endeavor to engage and realize the opportunities as promulgated in the nation’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25). With our geographical advantage within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, we have ample opportunities for growth and development economically and socially. Let’s get together to turn a new page for a bright and vigorous Hong Kong.
The author is an Election Committee member from the Medical and Health Services Subsector.