28 November 1997

Democratic Party Condemns Major Election Spending Hike

Democratic Party Chairman Martin Lee today condemned huge proposed election spending increases as turning Hong Kong into a "tycoon-ocracy" -- where only the very wealthy could afford to stand for election. Submitted to the Beijing-appointed Provisional Legislature on November 24, the latest change increases electoral spending limits by 143 percent, greatly disadvantaging pro-democracy candidates who traditionally have significant difficulties raising funds.

The new rules will allow groups contesting geographical constituencies to spend HK$500,000 per seat in the May 1998 elections. This means that an individual or party can spend up to $2.5 million in five-seat constituencies (New Territories East and West), $2 million in the four-seat constituency of Hong Kong Island and $1.5 million in three-seat constituencies (Kowloon East and West). The spending limit per seat in the 1995 legislative elections was capped at $200,000 -- less than half of therevised amount. Adjusting for inflation, the Democratic Party had recommended an increase to $240,000 per seat. The raised expense ceilings clearly threaten the political prospects of the most popular political parties and individuals who rely principally on funds raised from citizens. The Democratic Party -- fielding 20 candidates for all 20 democratically elected seats -- would thus have to spend $10 million in the May 1998 elections to compete effectively with wealthy opponents.

The spending hike further undermines the credibility of Hong Kong's first elections since the handover, which have already been marred by the restriction of the number of democratic seats to 20 of 60 and by electoral laws which dramatically reduced the franchise. Martin Lee said he intended to raise the issue of unfair election spending changes with Chief Executive C.H. Tung at their next meeting in early December.

Martin Lee commented:

"These new changes are totally unjustified and are clearly intended to further handicap the Democratic Party and our allies. It will not be possible for the democrats to spend such large amounts of money, and our candidates will naturally suffer.

Hong Kong's economic elites simply do not need any further advantages in these elections. Rather than encouraging money politics, the government should concentrate on getting information to the public through sponsored debates and free radio and television airtime -- thus ensuring a more level playing-field and democratic electoral process."

| Home | Meet Martin Lee | About the Democratic Party | Press Releases | Recent Articles | District Activities | July 1 Manifesto | Photo Archives | Downloadable | Constitutional Documents | Related Sites | Search | FAQ | Feedback |

Copyright © 1998 The Democratic Party. All Rights Reserved.