Saturday, April 17, 2010

Democracy at work

Next month two places which I am linked to will be holding elections to determine different matters.

Firstly there is the General Election in the United Kingdom on May 6th. This election has been anticipated for the past two years, with the Labour party losing its popularity. The Conservatives have overtaken Gordon Brown's government in the polls, lead by David Cameron. Yet last Thursday when the major party leaders had the first live TV debate in the nation's history, it was the third political party - the Liberal Democrats - with their leader Nick Clegg stealing the headlines and the votes by winning the contest. His performance was so good that the other two leaders David Cameron and Gordon Brown have acknowledged the Liberal Democrat leader as the victor of the TV debate and will be divert resources to tackling the Liberal Democrats. Early polls have shown the Liberal Democrats are now SECOND in the polls behind the Conservatives.

I just want to state my political leanings right here. Back in the mid to late nineties, I supported Labour. However when they become more business oriented and more centre with their enigmatic leader Tony Blair and also decided to support the Iraq war, I switched to the Liberal Democrats.

I am a lefty at heart. I want more rights for minorities such as homosexuals, ethnic minorities and people of lower social class. Gays and lesbians should have rights to form civil partnerships and have the same benefits as married couples. There should be more done to prevent racial and sexual discrimination in Britain. I do believe in taxing the rich more to help fund services and helping the poor. Even though I believe business should allowed to be run free, there should be a degree of regulation as businesses, especially the large companies, should be hold some civic responsibility to their employees, their customers and their investors when things go wrong. I think more should be done for the environment, by improving public transport and curbing carbon emissions.

I know some people will not agree with my opinion, but that is why we different political parties. This is why we have democracy, so people can exercise their right to vote. I always believe if you cannot show up to the voting booth on election, you cannot complain about the government afterwards even if you would or wouldn't have voted them in.

All I want for people to do is actually listen to the leaders policies and views, then decide for themselves who they want to vote for. Even if it isn't for the Liberal Democrats.
The next election I am looking forward to is the Hong Kong Legislative Council by-election on May 16th. One Legislative Counsellor in each of the five geographical constituencies have resigned in an attempt to hold a referendum on the issue of universal suffrage.

Currently in Hong Kong we cannot elect our Chief Executive directly and only half of the seats in the Legislative Council are held by geographical constituencies. The other half are held by businesses and vocational sectors in the "Functional Constituencies". We have counsellors representing the medical and health sector, transportation sectors, etc.

I have many points I could argue about the faults of the Hong Kong political system but I'll my arguments to two main issues.

Firstly I do believe their should be a referendum on whether or not the people in Hong Kong should be able to directly vote in their Chief Executive. However resigning on mass to trigger a by-election and costing the taxpayers money is not the way it should be done. Even their aim, to have universal suffrage by 2012, is impossible. A more reasonable target is to directly vote in the Chief Executive by 2017.

Secondly I do hate the idea of functional constituencies. That means certain people, most notably professionals, can vote in two constituencies - one geographical and one functional. As a doctor living in Tai Po, I can vote in the New Territories East geographical constituency and the Medical functional constituency. For some people who are not professional, like cleaners and construction site workers, they can only vote in the geographical constituencies. This is deplorable on any nature. It means the more professional you are, the more influential you are during the voting system, which is unfair. I hope soon their scrap the functional constituencies which should be totally illegally under The Universal Declaration of Human Rights from the UN.

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