Hong Kong’s Mainland and Constitutional Affairs Minister Erick Tsang tries to stir enthusiasm for District Council elections by combining publicity for the exercise with the ‘Night Vibes Hong Kong’ campaign. He seems eager to: a) boost turnout in the patriots-only poll, and b) to stress that the actual turnout figure is not important. (Maybe elsewhere in the administration an official is trying to boost turnout at contrived night markets while saying attendance figures don’t matter.)
It would look bad if you could vote for any party you want so long as it’s the DAB, which is running over 100 candidates. So a pro-Beijing ‘youth’-style party will also participate with five hopefuls. The opposition Democratic Party hopes to have six on the ballot. The word is that the relevant authorities will not let them get nominated – though the government denies anything has been finalized. (And yes, ‘authorities’ and ‘government’ are not necessarily the same thing.)
This still looks like most constituencies will have only DAB candidates running, though some candidates with the necessary endorsements might have an ‘independent’ tag to spice things up.
James Ockenden, the transport and workplace safety campaigner behind Transit Jam, also plans to take part in Kowloon City. It’s hard to see a genuinely independent figure – with a track record of highlighting government departments’ shortcomings – being allowed on the ballot. (In case you missed it: his yucky report on the Wanchai ‘night market’ by day.) The designers of the ‘improved’ election system put a lot of hard work into making sure only the right sort of people might get elected. Hence Erick Tsang’s simultaneous promotion of and feigned lack of concern with turnout.
More on the drop in Hong Kong’s younger population, with analysis from a consultancy director…
Many youngsters left Hong Kong as they were disappointed at the SAR’s future after the 2019 social unrest and the implementation of the national security law, Suen said.
Although the administration said Hong Kong has restored stability and normality, many youngsters do not feel that way as they feel the freedom of speech has been undermined, he added.
Suen said that although the administration did not ease concerns, the authorities are targeting the younger generation to cultivate patriotism.
“It is difficult for the government to change young Hongkongers minds as many of them have a negative feeling towards the government,” he said.
“The government is now working on educating primary school students by increasing their exchange opportunities with the mainland and enhancing patriotism.”