Functional constituency (Hong Kong)
In the political systems of Hong Kong, a functional constituency is a professional or special interest group involved in the electoral process. Eligible voters in a functional constituency may include natural persons as well as other designated legal entities such as organisations and corporations.
The concept of functional constituencies in Hong Kong was first developed in the release of "Green Paper: A Pattern of District Administration in Hong Kong" on 18 July 1984. The paper suggested Legislative Council to create 24 seats with 12 seats from different professional interest groups including Urban Council, Regional Council, and District Council. The first functional constituency was not created until 1991 with 14 seats consist of Heung Yee Kuk, Urban Council, Regional, and 11 types of industry.
The 14 functional constituencies in 1991:
In 1992, Chris Patten suggested additional political reform by adding nine additional functional constituencies with much extended voter base to the existing system. The changes were implemented in the 1995 legislative election.
The 9 functional constituencies added in 1995:
After transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, the functional constituencies were increased to 28 consisting of the following:
- Heung Yee Kuk
- Agriculture and Fisheries
- Health Services
- Architectural, Surveying and Planning
- Social Welfare
- Real Estate and Construction
- Commercial (First)
- Commercial (Second)
- Industrial (First)
- Industrial (Second)
- Financial Services
- Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication
- Import and Export
- Textiles and Garment
- Wholesale and Retail
- Information Technology
- Urban Council*
- Regional Council*
The Labour constituency will return 3 seats and the others with one.
By 2000, the seat held by Urban Council and Regional Council were dissolved by Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, the two seats were replaced by Catering and District Council. The District Council would be renamed to District Council(First) by 2012, as a result of addition of a special Functional Constituenciy which also having candidates from District Council but a different range of electors, named District Council (Second).
Currently, only 40 of the 70 Legislative Council seats are directly elected by the majority of people (35 through geographical constituencies and 5 through District Council (Second) functional constituency), with the rest of 30 elected by 28 traditional functional constituencies.
The Electoral base is non-uniform, and there may be institutional votes, individual votes or a mixture of both. Approximately one third of members are theoretically returned each by corporate block vote only, a mixture of corporate and individual votes, and individuals only. In those sectors with mixed voting, four have a greater number of block votes than individual electors. Fourteen seats were uncontested in 2008; of the 16 contested seats, the number of electors, corporate and individuals combined, ranged from between 112 and 52,894 voters. Four of the FC legislators – mostly those returned in fiercely contested elections – are aligned with the parties which support universal suffrage; two are independent and the rest (24) are pro-government.
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) refers to the participation of the business block vote in the affairs of Hong Kong as "balanced participation". On 26 April 2004, the NPCSC published its decision that:
"Any change...shall conform to principles such as being compatible with the social, economic, political development of Hong Kong, being conducive to the balanced participation of all sectors and groups"
In 2009, the Government published details of the electoral base of the functional constituencies as follows:
|Functional Constituency||No. of Registered Electors|
|Note:The list do not include District Council (Second) Functional Constituency, which consisted of all other Individual Registered Elector not belong to other 28 Functional Constituencies||Bodies||Individuals||Total|
|1||Heung Yee Kuk||155||155|
|2||Agriculture and Fisheries||160||160|
|11||Architectural, Surveying and Planning||6,117||6,117|
|14||Real Estate and Construction||441||286||727|
|22||Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication||2,060||155||2,215|
|23||Import and Export||875||619||1,494|
|24||Textiles and Garment||3,579||130||3,709|
|25||Wholesale and Retail||1,829||4,168||5,997|
|28||District Council (First)||425||425|
|source: Constitutional & Mainland Affairs Bureau|
Pro-democracy supporters criticise the functional constituency system for giving a minority too much power and influence. The right of corporations and legal entities to vote is also controversial, as it gives some individuals multiple votes. For example, in 1998, Sino Group chairman Robert Ng and companies he controlled held roughly 3-4% of the votes in the real estate constituency, according to an analysis by the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor; they described this as being equivalent in voting power to 15,940 people in a geographical constituency.
In some functional constituencies, the entire body of eligible voters comprises legal entities that are not natural persons. This is known as corporate voting.
In 2009, there were applications for judicial review to challenge the legality of corporate voting on the grounds that it contravened the right to vote enshrined in Article 26 of the Basic Law or was discriminatory in nature. Mr. Justice Andrew Cheung dismissed the applications, emphasising that his judgment was solely concerned with the constitutionality of corporate voting rather than the political wisdom of corporate voting or functional constituencies.
There have been calls to abolish the functional constituencies from pan democrats. The May 2010 by-election was triggered by the resignation of 5 pan-democrats from the Legislative Council who put themselves up for re-election to the Legislative Council. The 'Five Constituencies Referendum' concept to use a by-election as a de facto referendum on universal suffrage and the abolition of functional constituencies was hatched by the League of Social Democrats.
Following the consultations on the 2009 political reform package, where an additional five legislative seats for District Councils were proposed (in addition to Geographical seats) the government unveiled the revised package in mid-April 2010. It was proposed that the five additional Legco seats for the district council constituencies will be elected by proportional representation instead of block voting. With the proposals looking likely to be vetoed, the Democratic Party said they would support the measures if the five new District Council functional seats, and the one existing seat, would return candidates nominated by district councillors and elected by all registered voters.
List of current functional constituency members
|Functional Constituencies||Name||Party||Prior Experience||Education||First Took Office||Born|
|Accountancy||Leung, KennethKenneth Leung||Professional Commons||Accountant||Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Ph. D)||2012||1960|
|Agriculture and Fisheries||Ho, StevenSteven Ho||DAB||Election Committee||University of Birmingham (BS)||2012||1979|
|Architectural, Surveying and Planning||Tse, TonyTony Tse||Independent||Election Committee||Hong Kong Polytechnic University (BA)||2012||1954|
|Catering||Cheung, TommyTommy Cheung||Liberal Party||Eastern District councilman||Pepperdine University||2000||1949|
|Commercial (First)||Lam, JeffreyJeffrey Lam||Economic Synergy||Managing Director of Forward Winsome Industries||Tufts University (BS)||2004||1952|
|Commercial (Second)||Wong, PhilipPhilip Wong||None||Businessman||California Coast University (Ph.D)||1991||1938|
|District Council (First)||Ip Kwok-him||DAB||Central and Western District councilman||None||2000||1951|
|District Council (Second)||James To||Democratic Party||1991||1963|
|Albert Ho||Democratic Party||1995||1951|
|Education||Ip Kin-yuen||PTU||Teacher, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union||University of Hong Kong (MA)||2012||1962|
|Engineering||Lo Wai-kwok||BPA||Structural engineer, President of Hong Kong Institution of Engineers||University of Hong Kong (BS)||2012||1960|
|Finance||Ng Leung-sing||Independent||Vice-chairman of China & South Sea Bank||University of Macau (Ph. D)||2012||1949|
|Financial Services||Cheung, ChristopherChristopher Cheung||BPA||Election Committee||None||2012||1951|
|Health Services||Lee, JosephJoseph Lee||None||Nurse, Assistant Professor at Open University of Hong Kong||La Trobe University (BSN)||2004||1959|
|Heung Yee Kuk||Lau Wong-fat||Liberal Party||Member of Regional Council, landlord, farmer||Ling Saan High School||1991||1936|
|Import and Export||Wong Ting-kwong||DAB||Businessman||Guangzhou 6th High School||2004||1949|
|Industrial (First)||Leung, AndrewAndrew Leung||Economic Synergy||Chairman of Chairman of Hong Kong Productivity Council and Hong Kong Vocational Council||University of Leeds||2004||1951|
|Industrial (Second)||Lam Tai-fai||None||Managing Director of Peninsula Knitters Ltd||Hong Kong Polytechnic University||2008||1959|
|Information Technology||Mok, CharlesCharles Mok||Professional Commons||Founder of Group Sense||Purdue University (BS)||2012||1964|
|Insurance||Chan Kin-por||None||Assistant General Manager and Head of Insurance Group of Hang Seng Bank||Ng Wah Catholic Secondary School||2008||1954|
|Labour||Poon Siu-ping||FLU||Chairman of FLU||None||2012||1957|
|Kwok Wai-keung||FTU||District councillor for Eastern District Council||None||2012||1979|
|Tang Ka-piu||FTU||District councillor for Islands District Council||None||2012||1981|
|Legal||Kwok, DennisDennis Kwok||Civic Party||Lawyer||King's College London (Ph.D)||2012||1978|
|Medical||Leung Ka-lau||Independent||Doctor||Chinese University of Hong Kong (Ph.D)||2008||1962|
|Real Estate and Construction||Razack, AbrahamAbraham Razack||Professional Forum||Businessman, Chief Executive of the Urban Renewal Authority||University of Sydney||2000||1945|
|Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication||Ma Fung-kwok||New Century Forum||Chairman of Hong Kong Arts Development Council||None||2012||1955|
|Social Welfare||Cheung Kwok-che||Labour Party||Social worker||Hong Kong Polytechnic University||2008||1951|
|Textiles and Garment||Chung, FelixFelix Chung||Liberal Party||Chairman of Hong Kong Apparel Society||Robert Gordon University||2012||1964|
|Tourism||Yiu Si-wing||Independent||Director of China Travel Service||University of New South Wales||2012||1952|
|Transport||Yick, FrankieFrankie Yick||Liberal Party||Election Committee||University of Birmingham||2012||1954|
|Wholesale and Retail||Fang, VincentVincent Fang||Liberal Party||Entrepreneur||Wah Yan College||2004||1943|
- Vocational Panels in Ireland
- Rotten and pocket boroughs
- List of constituencies of Hong Kong
- Loh, Christine; Civic Exchange (1 March 2006). Functional Constituencies: A Unique Feature of the Hong Kong Legislative Council. Hong Kong University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-962-209-790-2.
- Public Consultation on the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive and for Forming the Legislative Council in 2012 Government of Hong Kong, 18 November 2009
- 2008 Legislative Council Election, Government of Hong Kong
- Decision of Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Issues Relating to the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the year 2007 and for Forming the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for the year 2008, Hong Kong Government Regional Gazette, 26 April 2004
- "Rights Group Attacks Electoral System", South China Morning Post, 1998-12-04
- "Corporate Voting is Highly Corrupt", Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, December 1998, retrieved 2009-07-14
- "Chan Yu Nam v. Secretary for Justice". Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- Lee, Diana, (15 April 2010). 'Grab this golden chance', The Standard
- Leung, Ambrose and Cheung, Gary (1 June 2010). "Democrats seek deal for support of reforms", South China Morning Post