District Council Election 2019 & discussion with Jean-Pierre Cabestan
There really is only one way of describing what happened in the early hours of Monday as ballot counting in the previous day’s district council elections revealed that an electoral tsunami had occurred resulting in a landslide win for pro-democracy candidates. Never before had so many people voted as over 71 per cent of the electorate, that’s 2.94 million people, turned out for the poll. Pro-democracy candidates took control of 17 out of 18 districts, with close to 400 out of the 452 seats. This left the pro-Beijing camp, which had previously controlled every single district council, with just seats 58 seats.
And then, on Wednesday, against the backdrop of the trade war between China and the United States, civil unrest in Hong Kong and those election results, United States’ president Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Rights and Democracy Act and another law banning the sale of weaponry to Hong Kong. With me to talk about what that might mean, and the changing political landscape, is Jean-Pierre Cabestan, Professor of the Department of Government and International Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s initial public response to the election results on Tuesday was that she would seriously reflect on the views expressed and improve the administration’s governance. Later though, when asked whether her policies were a reason for the losses of the pro-Beijing camp, she said it wasn’t up to the government to interpret the results. Despite overwhelming demands, both locally and internationally, to set up an independent enquiry commission to look at the causes of civil unrest and police responses, Lam said she will instead set up an independent review committee. However, so far, no details are forthcoming.