Hong Kong elite selects body tasked with choosing next leader

Published September 20, 2021
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam visits a polling station during voting of the election committee in Hong Kong. — Reuters
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam visits a polling station during voting of the election committee in Hong Kong. — Reuters

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s political elite began selecting a powerful committee on Sunday which will choose the city’s next leader and nearly half the legislature under a new “patriots only” system imposed by Beijing. The first poll under that new system — carrying the slogan “Patriots rule Hong Kong” — took place on Sunday as members of the city’s ruling classes cast votes for a 1,500-seat election committee.

In December, that committee will appoint 40 of the city’s 90 legislators — 30 others will be chosen by special interest groups and just 20 will be directly elected. The following year, it will pick Hong Kong’s next Beijing-approved leader.

Beijing insists the new political system is more representative and will ensure “anti-China” elements are not allowed into office. Critics say it leaves no room for the pro-democracy opposition, turning Hong Kong into a mirror of the authoritarian Communist Party-ruled mainland.

“Hong Kongers are completely cut off from electoral operations,” Nathan Law, a prominent democracy leader who fled to Britain last year, said.

“All election runners will become puppet showmen under Beijing’s entire control... with no meaningful competition.” Ted Hui, a former lawmaker who moved to Australia, said Hong Kong’s political system was now “a rubber-stamp game completely controlled by Beijing”.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2021

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