Mr. James To is a leading key figure in the Democratic Party and was the youngest member to be elected to the Legislative Council in Hong Kong's first democratic elections in 1991 -- he was 28 at the time. Twice-elected to the legislature, he has served in the lawmaking body for seven years, playing a key role in efforts to bring international standards of human rights and justice to Hong Kong. Five months after the transfer of sovereignty to China, Mr. To was nominated by the party to stand for a seat in Beijing's National People's Congress.
Education and Background:
Born in Hong Kong, Mr. To earned his Bachelor of Laws with honors from the University of Hong Kong. He went on to secure a post-graduate certificate in laws and serves as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong. He directs much effort toward fighting crime in the community through his leadership roles in groups such as the Action Committee Against Narcotics and the Fight Crime Committee.
Mr. To served on the Sham Shui Po District Board before he was elected to the Legislative Council for the first time in 1991, representing the geographical constituency of Kowloon West. With a reputation for honesty and tenacity, Mr. To was re-elected in 1995 with 69 percent of the popular vote in his Kowloon Southwest constituency. In the May 1998 elections, Mr. To, representing the Kowloon West geographical constituency, won one of 20 elected seats (of 60) in the Legislative Council.
In the Legislative Council, Mr. To chaired the Panel on Security, one of the legislature's key committees. Under his leadership, the panel monitored the performance of law enforcement agencies and the trend of corruption within government agencies. It evaluated whether the powers given to the Independent Commission Against Corruption was compatible with the changing social environment and dealt with immigration issues and Vietnamese refugees. James To has long worked to strengthen the fight against organized crime and triads.
Mr. To has also worked for years to establish an Independent Police Complaints Commission to guard against police brutality and abuse. His proposed legislation was amended, but he continues to push for more transparency and checks in law and order. Mr. To employs the universal standards outlined by the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as a rudimentary yardstick for Hong Kong. He believes the people of this highly developed territory should have standards of protection similar to those enjoyed by industrialized nations.
James To also pushed for a comprehensive review of the territory's urban renewal policy while he was in the Legislative Council. More than half of the buildings in Hong Kong will be more than 30 years old within the next 10 years. Mr. To was one of the first in the legislature to recognize that urban renewal is fundamental to increasing the supply of housing. The government did not carry out the recommended review and has since admitted its error in doing so.
In November 1997, Mr. To put his name forward for a seat on the National People's Congress. Despite his popularity with the public, he was unable to make it past the first round of competition. Mr. To was a member of the Central Committee of the United Democrats of Hong Kong, the predecessor to the Democratic Party. He is the Democratic Party spokesperson on security issues and deputy spokesperson for housing and human rights and the rule of law.
Mr. To is 34 years old and is married. He has resided in Kornhill since 1990.