Give all Hong Kong’s finance workers the vote in Legco functional constituencies, pan-democrats urge – South China Morning Post

6 months ago Comments Off on Give all Hong Kong’s finance workers the vote in Legco functional constituencies, pan-democrats urge – South China Morning Post

The 150,000 Hong Kong residents working in the city’s financial industries should be allowed to elect lawmakers to represent them in the Legislative Council, concern groups and pan-democratic lawmakers have said.

They are calling for an overhaul of the voter registration system for Legco’s insurance, banking and financial services functional constituencies, which are dominated by hundreds of corporate block votes.

Currently, 35 representatives of geographical constituencies and five “super seat” lawmakers in the 70-member legislature were picked by more than three million voters, but the remaining 30 lawmakers – representing 28 functional constituencies which operate on behalf of various trade sectors in the city – were elected by just 230,000 voters.

Furthermore, 10 of those 28 trade-based constituencies, such as those for banking, consist of corporate voters only, while another 10 consist solely of individual voters, with the remaining eight made up of both.

As of last year, more than 220,000 people were employed in the city’s finance and insurance industries, but there were only 551 voters in the financial services sector, 121 in banking and 128 in the insurance industry.

Kelvin Lee Chun-hei, a spokesman for the group Insurance Arise, which represents the industry, proposed replacing corporate voting with awarding a vote to about 100,000 insurance agents, actuaries and underwriting professionals.

Hong Kong professionals urged to register to vote in their functional constituency as city’s top job hangs in balance

Hedge fund manager Edward Chan Hon-fai, a spokesman for Financier Conscience, a financial industry group, suggested allowing 41,000 licensees registered with the Securities and Futures Commission, and about 9,600 bank employees registered with the Monetary Authority, to vote in the financial services and banking sectors, respectively.

“Now many of our corporate voters are from local stock brokerages,” Chan said. “Expanding the voter base will give a voice to a lot of asset managers like us who may have different perspectives on issues compared with the brokerages.”

He said that because the voter registration campaign ended last week, it was unlikely the proposal would be accepted before the Legco polls in September. But his group would lobby lawmakers and officials for it to be implemented in 2020.

Accountancy sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung and Democratic Party legislator Sin Chung-kai see a last chance to shake up the system before the legislative year ends in July.

The government plans to table a bill to make technical changes to the Legislative Council Ordinance, such as removing several corporate voters which are now defunct, but Leung and Sin want to table their own amendments to broaden the voter base of the insurance, banking and financial services sectors in ways similar to the concern group’s proposals.

Abolishing functional constituencies is in overall interests of Hong Kong

“Even if my amendment can be tabled and approved, it is impossible for it to take effect in September,” Leung said. “But does it mean we should just sit there and do nothing?”

The pan-democratic camp sees the abolition of functional constituencies as the ultimate goal, as the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, stipulates all lawmakers shall be elected by universal suffrage eventually.

Pan-democrats want to scrap the trade-based seats because according to Legco’s rules, a lawmaker’s motion can only be approved with a majority in each of the geographical and functional constituencies. Since the pan-democrats dominate the former while the pro-establishment camp controls the latter, bids by pan-democrats to change laws or policies can be defeated despite claiming widespread support.

Lee described the abolition of functional constituencies as the group’s “primary goal”.

“But for the time being, our priority is to find someone to challenge insurance lawmaker Chan Kin-por should he decide to seek another term,” Lee said.

Give all Hong Kong’s finance workers the vote in Legco functional constituencies, pan-democrats urge – South China Morning Post}