Political Reforms in Hong Kong: Implications for Politics and Democratization

Dr Jermain Lam
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The Chief Executive of Hong Kong initiated a series of political reform proposals in 2005. These included the re-organization of the Executive Council, the expansion of the Commission on Strategic Development, the re-definition of the role of ministers, the re-structuring of the composition of the Legislative Council, and the amendment of the election method for the Chief Executive. These proposals touched on a wide range of issues on democracy and a road map for practising universal suffrage in Hong Kong.

These reform proposals provoked intensive debates among various political actors in Hong Kong, including the general citizenry. Some criticized the proposals were conservative in advancing democracy in Hong Kong on the one hand, while others thought the proposals were already taking bold steps in the process of democratization. The matter was further complicated by the China factor, as politics and democracy in Hong Kong are closely linked to and monitored by its sovereign master. In fact, China has set the parameter for the extent to which democracy can be developed and how politics can be operated in Hong Kong.

The political reform proposals related to the composition of the Legislative Council and the election of the Chief Executive were unfortunately defeated. The political atmosphere in Hong Kong became confused and the direction of political development was uncertain. The effects of the re-organization of the Executive Council, the redefinition of the role of ministers, and the expansion of the Commission on Strategic Development in improving governance are also doubtful.

The theme of the paper is to evaluate the implications of the series of the political reforms for the politics and democratization in Hong Kong from the political governance perspective. The political governance perspective will examine the legitimacy, political accountability, stability, executive-legislative relationship, and integration of the political system. It is argued in the paper that Hong Kong is facing a governance crisis in the absence of a political consensus on a commonly acceptable political model. Governance and political leadership for the Chief Executive in Hong Kong will be extremely difficult, if not unstable, in the coming years. The paper will shed light on the process of democratization of an economically advanced city in an Asian context.

Keywords: Democracy, Politics, Political Reforms, Political Leadership, Democratization, Governance, Political Crisis
Stream: Politics, Public Policy and Law
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Political Reforms in Hong Kong

Dr Jermain Lam

Associate Professor, Department of Public & Social Administration,
City University of Hong Kong,
Tat Chee Avenue,
Yau Yat Chuen,
HONG KONG, Department of Public & Social Administration

Yau Yat Chuen, HONG KONG, Hong Kong

Jermain T.M. Lam is Associate Professor at the Department of Public & Social Administration, City University of Hong Kong. His research interests include political and administrative transformations in transitional societies. He is the author of "Political Dynamics in Hong Kong under Chinese Sovereignty" and has also published in various academic journals. He is the Programme Leader and the Politics & International Affairs Stream Leader of the Department.

Ref: I06P0057