LCQ19: Promoting civic awareness in the society

     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Kwok-che and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Miss Adeline Wong, in the Legislative Council today (June 27):


     The voter turnout rate of last year's District Council (DC) Election was 41.49 per cent, which was slightly higher than the 38.83 per cent in 2007.  Early this year, I commissioned academics to conduct a survey in the social work sector, and the preliminary results revealed that nearly 30 per cent of the registered social workers (RSWs) did not vote at last year's DC Election, yet 90 per cent of RSWs indicated that they would vote at the Legislative Council (LegCo) Election in September this year.  In addition, it has been reported that the number of people attending this year's June 4 vigil reached a record high of over 180,000, while the number of people attending each of the vigils held in the past few years also exceeded 150,000, and quite a number of them were youngsters.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that the aforesaid survey has reflected that the desire for voting of RSWs at DC Elections is lower than that at LegCo Elections, and the overall voter turnout rates of the past two LegCo Elections were higher than those of DC Elections, how the authorities will promote active voting at DC Elections among members of the public;

(b) whether the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau will propose to the Central Authorities to adopt a lower nomination threshold for implementing universal suffrage for the Chief Executive Election in 2017; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) whether the Government will propose to set up in Hong Kong a museum of the defense against the Japanese invasion, a museum of the establishment of New China, a museum of the Cultural Revolution and/or a museum of the June 4 incident with local characteristics, so as to enhance the understanding of members of public of the major historical events of our country and to foster sentiments to care about our country's development; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Government's reply to the questions raised by the Hon Cheung Kwok-che is as follows:

(1) For each District Council (DC) election, the government launches a publicity programme to promote the election, to encourage voter participation in DC election. The messages put across include: that the work of DCs is closely related to the daily life and well-being of the people of Hong Kong, and that each vote can make a difference; and the importance of honest and clean elections.

     Taking the publicity programme of 2011 DC Election as an example, the publicity programme lasted from August until the polling day.  We adopted a phased approach in building up the intensity of the publicity.

     The first phase of the programme focused on reminding prospective candidates, their agents and the public of the importance of clean elections. This message was promulgated through posters and Announcements in the Public Interest (APIs) on TV and radio.  A series of filmlets was screened on infotainment channels and other media platforms to educate the public on some of the major provisions in the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance.  To complement the clean elections message and as a prelude to phase two, we also launched some promotional activities mainly through posters and APIs, to remind people of the importance of DCs and the election.

     The second phase of the programme was launched to tie in with the commencement of the nomination period of candidates and was marked by a public ceremony.  The bulk of the promotional activities were conducted within this phase.  There were new versions of posters and APIs to reinforce our message, and we made use of a wide variety of channels to maximize publicity.  The publicity channels used included TV, radio, government websites, and major public transportation networks.  Election forums in selected constituencies were also arranged.  At the district level, banners and buntings were put up at prominent locations.  During this period, an API to call for nominations from prospective candidates and an API to drive home proper voting procedures were also screened.

     In addition, before the polling day, there were daily count-downs to heighten the atmosphere for the election.  Special TV programmes were also screened.  There were 11 TV APIs and four radio APIs for the publicity programme.

     The voter turnout rate of the 2011 DC Election is 41.49 per cent and the voter turnout exceeds 1.2 million. Both figures are higher than the corresponding figures of the 2007 DC Election. This shows that the civic awareness of citizens has increased over time and citizens show more support to DC elections and the work of the DCs.  At the same time, it shows that the government's publicity programme has been effective.

(2) The Decision adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) in December 2007 relating to the methods for selecting the Chief Executive (CE) and forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) in the year 2012 and on issues relating to universal suffrage made it clear that when universal suffrage for the CE is implemented in 2017, the nominating committee may be formed with reference to the current provisions regarding the Election Committee in Annex I to the Basic Law.  The nominating committee shall in accordance with democratic procedures nominate a certain number of candidates for the office of the CE, who is to be elected through universal suffrage by all registered electors of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

     The community should have thorough discussion to forge a consensus on how the nominating committee shall in accordance with democratic procedures nominate candidates for the office of the CE.  In this regard, the next-term Government may wish to consider the views relating to universal suffrage consolidated by the Administration during the public consultation on the electoral method for selecting the CE and for forming the LegCo for 2012.

(3) The permanent exhibitions of the Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence and Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum under the management of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) cover topics of modern China and Hong Kong. From time to time, the three museums also organise thematic exhibitions related to the history of modern China and Hong Kong, including "The East River Column and the Hong Kong-Kowloon Independent Brigade" (2004), "The 8-Year War of Resistance" (2005-06), "A Century of China" (2009-10) and "Centenary of China's 1911 Revolution" (2011).  LCSD has no plan to set up a museum with focus on the history of modern China.

Ends/Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:22