Residents should facilitate good politics by voting on Sunday

As Hong Kong gears up for the 2021 Legislative Council general election — the first LegCo election to be held after major reforms were made to the region’s electoral system earlier this year — a group of political radicals, some of whom have fled abroad after committing criminal offenses, has called for a boycott of the election or the casting of blank ballots.

Deterred by the National Security Law for Hong Kong, these radicals no longer openly engage in subversive activities, but they continue to spread political venom by inciting their supporters to do their bidding.

Those who made such calls could have violated the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance and will be dealt with by the enforcement authority according to law. I hope Hong Kong society as a whole does not fall into the trap set up by the subversives for one simple reason: This is a high-quality election that will produce good results for Hong Kong.

I believe the opposition and biased foreign media outlets’ smear campaign against the LegCo election is not the only factor that could reduce the turnout rate of this election. According to the results of some major elections around the world, a cooler political atmosphere and a low-morale political party or camp will also lead to a quieter election. Meanwhile, since the earlier reforms made on Hong Kong’s electoral system has set a patriotism requirement for all qualified candidates, the supporters of the traditional “establishment camp” have more confidence in the results and thus are less enthusiastic to vote. These are examples of natural social psychology at play. That said, registered voters should still fulfill their civic responsibility and cast their vote on Sunday as the poll will result in much better politics in Hong Kong.

One thing is certain: The election heralds the end of confrontational politics. For years, Hong Kong has been spinning its wheels, owing largely to infighting inside the legislative chamber and elsewhere. Lawmakers were not debating policies, but hurling mud at one another. Meaningless confrontation or even the promotion of separatism has only split society.

According to LegCo statistics, an average 22 hours were spent in quorum calls, one of the major filibustering tactics used by the opposition camp, during the legislative years 2016 to 2020. Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said in an interview that even some noncontroversial bills had taken up almost 18 hours to finish deliberation when only two hours were needed to pass according the previous records. This is a terrible waste of taxpayer money.

As a result of confrontational politics, voters were divided into two camps and used to vote based on ideological concepts and beliefs. People may recall that Hong Kong’s previous election debates were focused on ideologies; candidates wasted their time launching or defending personal attacks, or debating the Beijing-Hong Kong relationship, which is actually clearly defined by the “one country, two systems” principle.

This time, voters will be able to make rational choices by looking beyond ideologies. We’re seeing a plethora of solutions proposed by the candidates to the city’s thorny issues, such as housing, elderly care and medical services, as well as debates about how Hong Kong should explore its future direction.

We are now coming closer to good politics: A process that addresses real issues and achieves good governance. In such a system, your vote is valuable more than ever because the election will help improve our society

Taking on the existing problems and making future plans are the true essence of a well-functioning democracy. Citizens in the city can now make their choices, not to fight “political enemies”, but to select the best persons to represent their interests in the legislature.

More Hong Kong talent began to enter the competition. When we look at the list of candidates, we not only see new faces but also people with varying backgrounds. We must admit that election candidates in previous elections were homogeneous.

They were mostly typical politicians understandably, regardless of their backgrounds, because the old electoral system was designed for political animals. That was also why many talented people had been reluctant to join the so-called political “hot kitchen”. Now as the reform has eliminated extremism and radicalism, we see them joining the race.

Policy researchers, university scholars and engineers, just to name a few, who were previously unwilling to participate in politics are now joining the race. They are expected to help provide professional advice on and supervision over the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s development.

Furthermore, the election demonstrated a high level of diversity. There are also candidates who have moved to Hong Kong from the Chinese mainland and foreign countries who are taking part in this election. They had little chance to win before because their identities would have been called into question, which was ironic for “Asia’s World City”.

Election reform has altered the course of events. This time, many ordinary folks, such as bus drivers, electricians and tenants of public housing and subdivided units, are running in the election, which was never seen before.

All in all, in most aspects, this is a high-quality election that will produce results for Hong Kong.

We are now coming closer to good politics: A process that addresses real issues and achieves good governance. In such a system, your vote is valuable more than ever because the election will help improve our society. People who are speculating about how this electoral system will fail should face the facts and realities.

Good politics is worthy of good participation and also needs good participation. I sincerely hope that all voters will exercise their sacred right to vote for their LegCo representatives on Dec 19. Your votes will be a vote to say farewell to the chaotic past and to build a much brighter and prosperous future for all residents.

The author is a member of the Guangdong Province Zhongshan City Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and executive vice-chairman of the Hong Kong CPPCC Youth Association.