Saturday, 18 August 2012

Know Thy Candidates

The Legislative Council elections are on September 9 and this will be my first time voting.

However the election process is very confusing as there is a geographical constituency you vote for and then a functional one (if you belong to one of the sectors).

I didn't think I belonged to a particular one, so when I registered I didn't sign up and the registration form didn't list all of the functional constituencies either.

In any event since I registered my mail box has been inundated with election flyers from the various candidates -- and there are 14 "parties" -- some are independents -- who are running in Hong Kong Island.

Tonight a televised debate was broadcast and all 14 "groups" were squashed on an oval-shaped stage with observers above them. Some had only one person, others had three to five people. That's because as I understand it, in an earlier election they won by popular vote and if the main candidate had more than enough votes to meet the quota, the spillage could go towards the second candidate and so on.

At first there was simultaneous English translation of each of candidates introducing themselves, but after that the debate got too complicated for the translator to keep up. However it was impressive to see the sign-language guy interpreting almost two hours of debates.

It was also interesting to see all 14 "groups" given a say -- albeit only a few minutes. However when it came to debates, people seemed to have less than 20 seconds to make rebuttals or comments, which hardly gave them a chance to say anything.

Each "group" wore their number as that is how they will appear on the election ballot, and some even verbally reiterated their number as they answered questions so that voters would remember them.

Some of the issues they talked about were property prices, national education and the economy, mostly with predictable answers depending on the party's philosophy.

Candidates included former Legislative Council President Tsang Yok-sing, Regina Ip, Miriam Lau, Tanya Chan and Cyd Ho, the last four of whom are women.

Two of the five independents were not cut out of a politician mold -- one wore a New York Yankees baseball cap, while another seemed to shoot his mouth off making bizarre comments.

Nevertheless it was interesting to watch "democracy" at work and now my next challenge is figuring out how to fill out the ballot on September 9!

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