The Report Presentation

The report, "Birdcage or Framework?  Considering what comes next in constitutional reform" was released this morning at the Foreign Correspondent's Club in Central Hong Kong at 9:30 this morning.  The report, 155 pages long, exhaustively details why Hong Kong needs to fix its governance system.  Hong Kong has the world's largest demonstrations by proportion of population.  The two demonstrations in 2003 and 2004 of around half a million would be equivalent to the US having a demonstration involving just over 21 million people.  On mainland China, the same proportion of population would have 105 million demonstrating, a number larger than the entire populations of France, or Britain or Italy, or even Germany.  Hong Kong's extraordinary degree of discontent is wholly internally focused on the Hong Kong government and legislative system, not the "one country, two systems" framework governing relations between Hong Kong and the mainland.

The two main sources of discontent are in the widespread and deep perceptions that government policy making is not fair and that no one cares or acts on resident's greatest problems of personal concern.  Neither any political party nor the government or Chief Executive perform well enough to satisfy a majority.  People's trust in the system and its leaders in the Executive branch or the parties has been badly damaged by the current system.  Businessmen note with dismay that the government cannot get development proposals into effect in any kind of reasonable timeframe.  When decisions are made, the public react strongly, and government backs down, nearly every time.  So something is broken with the system, and this report shows exactly what that is.  

With barely 40,000 voters controlling 24 seats in the 60 seat legislature, and only a total of 230,000 voters controlling the half of the legislature given over to Functional Constituencies, the 30 seats or half of the chamber allotted to the huge bloc of 3.4 million registered voters in the Geographic Constituencies hardly seems fair.  These millions of voters have again and again seen the will of the vast majority blocked by the tiny FC minority who have privileged power and access.  Interestingly, large majorities of the various Functional Constituencies support ending this unfairness.  They realize that such unfairness corrodes the social bonds that everyone needs for societies to be stable and prosperous.  And so there is a strong majority to abolish the FCs.  And Beijing has issued a timetable deeming they be abolished in 2020.  The core of the problem over this issue has been in figuring out how to abolish the FCs in a way that satisfies most people's sense of fairness while preserving people's rights and protecting their interests.  The report offers suggestions on how to do this and conducted research in how various groups might regard such options.

For a quick summary of the results, see the presentation slides, then for detailed explanations, see the report.  It has a one page Executive Summary, a detailed Findings Summary, and a comprehensive Table of Contents to help you find what you need to know.  And if you have comments after reading the report, come back and leave them on the site.

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