Middle-class pressure group Professional Commons are already loathed by our benighted policy-makers for their presumptuous and impertinent contributions to the HK$66.9 billion Express Rail Link debate, namely embarrassing suggestions on how to slice billions and billions off the bill. Officials, desperate to avoid the humiliation of wasting less taxpayers’ money, resorted to bad-mouthing (as in slandering) the group’s work, which in turn earned them a stern lawyers’ letter. So what better way for the PCs to bring a little brightness and cheer into our leaders’ lives at this time than to denounce the government’s proposed political reforms for the 2012 elections.
They don’t exactly pull any punches, declaring of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen:
1. He has completely reneged on his election promise, and has decided not to resolve the question of universal suffrage during his term;
2. He has abandoned his constitutional authority which would allow him to kick-start the process by submitting a report to the Central Authorities that contains a roadmap to universal suffrage;
3. He has chosen a policy to try to confuse people, expand political privileges, and aggravate social conflicts.
They go on to slam the functional constituency system, pointing out that 14 of 18 business sector seats in the Legislative Council were not contested, and suggesting that some are quite possibly controlled by a few barons with multiple votes.
Functional constituencies were established in Hong Kong in the 1980s as a way to introduce a vestige of representation into the colonial government. Such group representation is a classic part of corporatism – as practiced by Mussolini and fascist regimes in Latin America in the mid-20th Century. The idea is to
…eliminate spontaneous interest articulation and establish a limited number of authoritatively recognised groups that interact with the governmental apparatus in defined and regularised ways. Moreover, the recognised groups in this type of regime are organized in vertical functional categories rather than horizontal class categories and are obliged to interact with the state through designated leaders of authoritatively sanctioned interest associations.
James M. Malloy, Authoritarianism and Corporatism in Latin America, 1977
To Beijing, the FCs are primarily a way to guarantee a pro-government bloc that can serve as a rubber stamp/veto in the legislature. In exchange for offering a bit of privileged access to influence, the ruling power wins the undying loyalty of people like, say, lawyers and engineers.
Except it seems someone forgot to tell Professional Commons members.