Oak Maedow Phuket BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Login | Create Account | Search


Long voter queues as Hong Kong democracy camp seeks poll gains

Long voter queues as Hong Kong democracy camp seeks poll gains

HONG KONG: Hong Kong voters turned out in high numbers on Sunday for district council elections that the city’s pro-democracy movement hopes will add pressure on the Beijing-backed government to hear their demands.

politicsChinesemilitary
By AFP

Sunday 24 November 2019, 12:04PM


Hong Kong has been buffeted by months of mass rallies and violent clashes pitting police against protesters agitating for greater democracy in the Chinese territory.

The poll to choose 452 councillors handling community-level concerns like bus routes and garbage collection has traditionally generated little excitement, but takes on new importance with this year’s unrest.

The councils have long been dominated by the city’s pro-Beijing bloc, and voters seeking change said they hope that weakening the establishment’s grip will give fresh momentum to the democracy movement.

“I hope this ballot can increase our voice in the council,” 19-year-old student Michael Ng, voting for the first time in his life, told AFP.

“Even though one ballot can only help a little, I still hope it can bring change to society and support street protests in some way.”

Long queues formed at polling stations and the government said turnout in the first two hours was triple the rate seen during the previous district council polls in 2015.

A record 4.13 million citizens have registered to vote – more than half the population of 7.3 million and an increase of nearly 400,000 – in polls that are the closest that Hong Kongers get to direct representation.

Some political analysts say high turnout could help the pro-democracy camp, which is calling the polls a referendum on Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the pro-Beijing government, who have refused to concede to their movement’s demands.

But the polls are not entirely symbolic: some candidates for next year’s legislative elections will be drawn from district councillors, and the councils also will contribute 117 members to the 1,200-strong Beijing-controlled electoral college that chooses the chief executive.

 

Calm streets

Property in Phuket

Protests have been muted in recent days after pro-democracy figures urged citizens to avoid disruption so as not to prompt the government to delay the polls.

Police were deployed at some polling stations and on city streets, but the presence was not particularly heavy.

No violence or other disturbances were reported in early polling.

“Facing the extremely challenging situation, I am pleased to say… we have a relatively calm and peaceful environment for (the) election today,” Lam said after voting in her constituency on Hong Kong island.

The political unrest kicked into high gear with giant rallies in June against a bill backed by Lam that would allow extraditions to China’s opaque justice system.

The bill was eventually withdrawn, but the movement snowballed into wider calls for democracy and investigations into alleged police brutality against demonstrators.

The district polls remain the city’s freest. By contrast, members of the city’s legislature are elected by a mix of popular vote and industry groups stacked with Beijing loyalists.

Analysts expect pro-democracy candidates to see gains in the district councils but still fall well short of a majority of the 452 seats.

Political bitterness has infected the campaign, with one pro-democracy candidate having his ear bitten off in an attack, while 17 other candidates of all stripes – some seeking re-election – have been arrested over protest-related activities.

Election authorities also banned democracy activist Joshua Wong from running in the district poll for backing Hong Kong “self-determination”.

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

CAPTCHA

Be the first to comment.

 

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Video shows cameras being removed from shootout gambling den

Oh yeah..."The commissioner said if police had solid evidence that the place operated as a casi...(Read More)


Four Points by Sheraton opens 600-room resort in Patong

Agreed. Horrible timing for such a huge and massive resort to show up on the market. Smaller guestho...(Read More)


More stranded Russians fly home from Phuket

Suvarnabhumi's website reports quite a lot of actual international arrivals and departures, incl...(Read More)


‘Safe and Sealed’ brings hope for tourism revival

another dose of wishful thinking, who on earth would pay twice the price to be herded to third rate ...(Read More)


Dual prices on agenda

SEC2, a electric- and water bill not show or you are Thai or Foreigner. It even can be a bill from ...(Read More)


Search resumes for missing people from sunken ferry

Where is the 3rd lorry, with another 45 tons of garbage blocks ? Were the lorries not secured to th...(Read More)


Patong workers file complaint over unpaid salary, no social security payments

How is this unacceptable employers behaviour possible on Phuket? A shameful situation. Phuket Provin...(Read More)


Dual prices on agenda

When you see the photo., it is plain thick skin racism/discriminatory/ anti foreign tourist. Time fo...(Read More)


Investigation into capsized ferry as 1 confirmed dead, 4 still missing

@BigA, a tanker ship with all tanks secured/closed, has always reserve buoyancy, no matter how littl...(Read More)


More stranded Russians fly home from Phuket

CaptainJack69, normal foreigners still not allowed to fly in. These repatriation flights are probab...(Read More)