Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Lack of democratic gains a concern for many Hong Kongers

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic politicians from Hong Kong expressed concerns yesterday about democratic development in the territory after Beijing-backed candidates trounced the pro-democracy camp in Sunday's district council elections.

"No matter from which point of view you look at it, the result totally exceeded everyone's expectations. There's no doubt that it will have a huge and negative impact on the pan-democracy camp," said Richard Tsoi (蔡耀昌), convener of the Power for Democracy movement who lost on Sunday by 180 votes.

Tsoi was one of the organizers of the massive march against proposed Article 23 of the Basic Law on July 1, 2003. About 500,000 people joined the march to protest against the proposed amendment, which was seen as anti-democracy and impinging upon freedom of speech.

Four months after the march, pro-democracy parties won a decisive victory over pro-China parties in district council elections.

This year, however, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, a Beijing-backed party, won 115 out of 364 seats, an increase of 62 over its current seats.

Pan-democracy candidates won 110 seats, with the main opposition Democratic Party securing just 59 seats, down from the 92 seats it now holds.

"Pan-democracy councilors might not be able to hold a majority in any of the 18 districts, and that might lead to councilors focusing only on economic issues and district affairs and ignoring democracy-related issues," Tsoi said at forum on the elections hosted by a cross-strait relations research center at Taipei College of Maritime Technology.

Among the reasons for the Democratic Party's failure were that the impact of the 2003 protest was ebbing away, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) has been swift to respond to the public's demands and the economy has been recovering, said Stanley Ng Wing Fai (吳永輝), a member of the party's Central Standing Committee.

Also See: Editorial: A wake-up call for HK democrats

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