- 25 March 1998
The Democratic Party Releases May Election Platform: Universal Suffrage,
Rule of Law, Improved Livelihood Main Planks
This week the Democratic Party announced its election platform for the
May 1998 Legislative Council elections. Party Chairman Martin Lee and Vice-chairmen
Dr. Yeung Sum and Anthony Cheung presented the platform to the public and
unveiled the party's election slogan: "fighting for democracy, improving
livelihood -- your Democratic Party."
Top election priorities included pushing for full democracy, restoring
watered down human rights protection laws such as the Bill of Rights, and
measures to help Hong Kong citizens cope with the economic downturn caused
by Asia's financial crisis. Although the electoral arrangements for May
guarantee democrats a reduced number of seats, the party leaders pledged
to stand for elections to give Hong Kong voters a chance to express their
Martin Lee commented:
"Our platform sets out the clear differences between our party
and pro-Beijing parties. This month Hong Kong's Chief Executive C.H. Tung
stated to international election observers that Hong Kong's democratic
development could be put off for 10, 12 -- or even 15 years. We hope that
on 24 May, the people of Hong Kong will vote for democrats and tell Mr.
Tung through the ballot box that this is truly unacceptable."
English-language Platform summary and AP wire story follow:
The Democratic Party 1998 Legislative Council Election Platform
Who we are:
The Democratic Party is a local political party which is a party for
all Hong Kong people. Dedicated to the affairs of Hong Kong and concerned
about the future of China, members of the Democratic Party are working
for democracy, progress and prosperity for Hong Kong and China.
What we stand for:
We believe Hong Kong's future depends on freedom, democracy, human rights
and the rule of law. We are proud that the people of Hong Kong support
us in our efforts to advance these key principles and pledge to continue
our fight to advance Hong Kong people's rights -- especially the right
to have a say over our own future.
Join with us:
The Democratic Party welcomes all who share our beliefs to unite in
building a better future for Hong Kong. Although the May 24 elections will
take place under restrictive new rules passed by the appointed legislature,
the Democratic Party is committed to participating in the elections and
to giving Hong Kong people a voice and a choice in their government. We
are confident that with Hong Kong people's support, we can continue to
make a difference.
Main Points of our 1998 Legislative Council Election Platform:
1. Full Democratic Elections
Hong Kong needs full democratic elections to realise and fully implement
the principle of "one country, two systems" and to assure Hong
Kong people rule Hong Kong with the promised high degree of autonomy. The
Chief Executive, legislature and other tiers of representative government
must be directly elected according to the principle of "one person,
one vote." The Democratic Party will continue to strive for and promote
democratic reforms to render the executive and legislative branches accountable
to Hong Kong people through democratic elections. The Democratic Party
believes amendments to Hong Kong's constitution, the Basic Law, are essential
to achieve full democracy and to ensure the continuation of liberty, human
rights and the rule of law.
2. Protect Human Rights, Freedoms and the Rule of Law
Since the reunification with China, there has been a deterioration of
basic rights protections in Hong Kong. Important civil rights laws, including
the Bill of Rights, have been rolled back and there has been an undermining
of the institutions essential to the protection of human rights. The laws
passed by the appointed Provisional Legislature must be amended to restore
legal protections for the key freedoms of speech, assembly and demonstration.
The rule of law ensures an independent judiciary and predictable legal
system which guarantee both Hong Kong's civil liberties and a level playing
field for business. The Democratic Party will continue to fight to ensure
and defend a legal system which will safeguard fundamental rights and the
rule of law.
3. Housing and Home Ownership
Land is a scarce resource in Hong Kong and home-ownership is out of
reach or a tremendous economic burden for too many Hong Kong residents.
In light of current property prices, the Democratic Party calls for an
increase in the supply of land in order to lower land prices, resources
to speed up the redevelopment of older urban areas, the privatisation of
public housing and building more public housing, Home Ownership Scheme
flats and "Sandwich class" housing.
4. Labour and Unemployment
Hong Kong has undergone significant economic restructuring over the
last decade. The closure of a number of major companies and the ongoing
regional economic crisis has exacerbated the unemployment problem. To protect
job opportunities for local work force, the Democratic Party opposes the
importation of labour. New immigrants, mid-career workers and unemployed
are an untapped resource and the Government should ensure there are re-training
opportunities for these sectors in order to meet labour demand.
5. Economic Relief
The Democratic Party believes it is essential to ease the current economic
burden, including the middle class. With the present high inflation and
unemployment, fees and charges for public utilities and government services
should be frozen, tax allowances increased and rates lowered.
6. Reform Social Security
The elderly of Hong Kong built our society, but many find present day
existence and expenses difficult to cope with. The Government should increase
the current amount of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance to assist
the underprivileged in their basic needs. Also, the means test should be
raised so our elderly will not be penalised for savings. Aside from providing
assistance to the elderly and disadvantaged, their rights should also be
protected and opportunities provided.
7. Equal Opportunities
The Democratic Party believes it is essential to eliminate all forms
of discrimination, on the grounds of age, race, religious belief, political
belief and parental status. Women and men should enjoy equal rights and
opportunities, as should ethnic minorities, the elderly, the young and
the disabled. Hong Kong is a modern society which should provide equal
pay for equal work and protection under law from abuse and harassment.
8. Education Quality Improvement
Education is an investment in Hong Kong's future. The SAR government
must greatly increase its current investment in education and look ahead
to future education challenges, particularly in basic education and information
technology. Primary school should operate on a whole-day basis. Tertiary
education must be strengthened, and there should be increased funding for
kindergarten education. Primary and secondary school teachers should be
college graduates to improve the overall quality of education.
9. Environmental Protection
Hong Kong's development should be compatible with environmental principles,
so as to reduce pollution and to improve the quality of life for the Hong
Kong public. Noise and air pollution should be reduced in urban areas and
sewage disposal, waste recovery and recycling schemes should be promoted.
New pollution prevention schemes should be implemented and environmental
study should be incorporated into basic education in order to increase
environmental protection awareness.
10. Accelerate Competitiveness
We support the enhancement of Hong Kong's status as a versatile international
centre of science, technology, education, culture and sports.
The Democratic Party wants to establish Hong Kong as a leading information
centre, an "Information City," to build up a new educational
and technological culture to sustain the economy of Hong Kong, create wealth
and employment opportunities and maintain Hong Kong as the communication
and transportation center of South East Asia. To reinforce and protect
Hong Kong's role as an international information centre, the SAR must provide
basic infrastructure and legal protection for the free flow of information.
11. Free and Fair Competition
The Democratic Party believes it is essential to end monopolies and
make markets more transparent. Cartels hurt competitiveness and consumers
equally. Hong Kong should enact a competition law, set up a competition
council, and the Government should advocate and practice fair competition
policy to minimize monopoly and monitor market activities to protect investors
and consumer rights.
12. Promote Economic Development
Continued growth into the 21st Century will depend on sustained investment
in human and physical infrastructure. To increase the competitiveness of
Hong Kong, it will be important to increase personnel training and education.
Long-term goals should include the promotion and development of commercial,
financial, tourism, fishing and agricultural sectors, including entrepreneurial
activity and mid and small-size enterprises.
Hong Kong Democrats Unveil Platform
(March 24, AAS)
HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong's biggest political party unveiled a platform
Tuesday calling for more democracy, and said unfair rules for the upcoming
election ensured it would win only 11 seats in the 60-member legislature.
"The system is so bent against us that we do not really expect
to win too many seats," said Martin Lee, chairman of the Democratic
The May 24 vote will produce the first elected legislature since China
regained sovereignty over the former British colony on July 1, 1997. On
that day, China disbanded an elected legislature in which the Democratic
Party and its allies had a slim majority.
Unlikely to have been chosen to sit on a provisional legislature that
filled the gap, the Democratic Party and most independent allies boycotted
China is worried that demands for democracy from Hong Kong could spread
to mainland China, challenging the Communist Party's monopoly on power.
It granted Hong Kong a high degree of self-rule when it took over, but
strongly opposed democratic reforms introduced by the last colonial governor.
On May 24, 30 seats will be elected by professional and business circles
that largely represent Hong Kong's elite. Ten will be elected by an election
commission, composed of representatives of business, professional and governmental
groups; 20 others will be chosen by voting from geographical districts.
Lee called the system "a farce."
"It is not a genuine election at all. Polls show Ninety-five percent
of Hong Kong people don't even know what sort of elections we are going
to have." The Democrats' platform calls for full democratic elections
when a new legislature is chosen two years from now.
The Democrats also repeated their call for Hong Kong's leader, the chief
executive, to be elected by direct vote in 2002. The current chief executive
is Tung Chee-hwa, chosen by a China-approved committee of 400 people.