District Councils of Hong Kong

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District Council
Traditional Chinese 區議會

The District Councils, formerly District Boards until 1999, are the local councils for the 18 Districts of Hong Kong. Under the supervision of Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong Government, administration and affairs.

History[edit]

An early basis for the delivery of local services were the Kaifong associations, set up in 1949. However, by the 1960s, these had ceased to represent local interests, and so, in 1968, the government established the first local administrative structure with the city district offices, which were intended to enable it to mobilise support for its policies and programmes, such as in health and crime-reduction campaigns. An aim was also to monitor the grass roots, following the 1967 riots.[1]

Under the Community Involvement Plan, launched in the early 1970s, Hong Kong and Kowloon were divided into 74 areas, each of around 45,000 people. For each, an 'area committee' of twenty members was then appointed by the city district officers, and was comprised, for the first time, of members from all sectors of the local community, led by an unofficial member of the Legislative Council (Legco). The initial purpose was to help implement the 'Clean Hong Kong' campaign, by distributing publicity material to local people.This was held to be a success.[1]

A next stage in the government's effort to increase local engagement and influence was the setting up, in June 1973, of mutual aid committees (MACs) in high-rise residential buildings. These were described in Legco as "a group of responsible citizens, resident in the same multi-storey building who work together to solve common problems of cleanliness and security." In fact, they were tightly controlled by the government. With government encouragement, the number of such committees increased rapidly in these private buildings, from 1,214 in 1973 to 3,463 in 1980. The scheme was extended to public housing estates, of which 800 had MACs in 1980, as well as factories and in the New Territories.[1]

The next development was the establishment of eight district advisory boards in the districts of the New Territories, starting with Tsuen Wan in 1977. The boards, whose members were appointed, were more formally constituted than the city district boards, charged with advising on local matters, recommending minor district works, and conducting cultural and recreational activities.

Then in 1982, under the governorship of Sir Murray MacLehose, the district boards were established under the District Administration Scheme. The aim was to improve co-ordination of government activities in the provision of services and facilities at the district level and the boards initially took over the roles of the district advisory boards.[1][2]

At first, the boards comprised only appointed members and government officials, but from 1982, a proportion of each was elected.[1] In an attempt to inject a democratic element into the Legislative Council, the government introduced a model where some legislators were elected indirectly by District Council members. Twelve legislators were returned by an 'electoral college' of district councillors in 1985. The practice was repeated in 1988 and 1995.[3]

After the HKSAR was established, as part of the 'through train', the district boards became provisional district boards, composed of all the original members of the boards supplemented by others appointed by the chief executive. (Under the British administration, the Governor had refrained from appointing any member.)

Later in early 1999 a bill was passed in the Legislative Council providing mainly for the establishment, composition and functions of the District Councils, which would replace the Provisional District Boards. The 27 ex officio seats of Rural Committees, abolished by the colonial authorities, were reinstated. The government rejected any public survey or referendum on the issue, saying that it had been studying the issue since 1997, and had received 98 favourable submissions. The self-proclaimed pro-democracy camp dubbed the move "a setback to the pace of democracy" because it was a throwback to the colonial era.[4]

In 2010, the government proposed that five legislators be added to district council functional constituencies, and be elected by proportional representation of elected DC members.[5] In a politically controversial deal between the Democratic Party and the Beijing government, this was changed to allow the five seats to be elected by those members of the general electorate who did not otherwise have a functional constituency vote.

Operation[edit]

Functions[edit]

The councils are mandated to advise the Government on the following:

  • matters affecting the well-being of people in the District;
  • the provision and use of public facilities and services within the District;
  • the adequacy and priorities of Government programmes for the District;
  • the use of public funds allocated to the District for local public works and community activities; and

District councils also undertake the following within the respective districts with its available funds allocated by the government:

  • environmental improvements;
  • the promotion of recreational and cultural activities; and
  • community activities

Constituencies[edit]

There were a total of 534 district council members in the third term (2008–11), of which –

Starting from the fourth District Council Election, the total number of district council members has reduced from 534 to 507, of which –

  • 412 are returned by direct election
  • 27 are ex officio members (當然議員) (Rural Committee Chairmen in the New Territories), and
  • 68 are appointed members by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

Councils[edit]

Map of district councils

There is a district council for each of the following eighteen districts. The number in parentheses corresponds to the number shown on the map at the right.

Composition[edit]

Term of Office Chairmen Non-officials Officials Overall
Elected Members Appointed Members Ex Officio Members
(Rural Committee Chairmen)
Urban Council Members
1982–85
District Board
(1.4.82 - 31.3.85)
District Officers 132 134 27 30 167 490
1985–88
District Board
(1.4.85 - 31.3.88)
Elected from among DB members 237 132 27 30 426
1988–91
District Board
(1.4.88 - 31.3.91)
Elected from among DB members 264 141 27 30 462
1991–94
District Board
(1.4.91 - 30.9.94)
Elected from among DB members 274 140 27 441
1994–97
District Board
(1.10.94 - 30.6.97)
Elected from among DB members 346 27 373
1997–99 Provisional
District Board
(1.7.97 - 31.12.99)
Elected from among PDB members 469 469
2000–03
District Council
(1.1.00 - 31.12.03)
Elected from among DC members 390 102 27 519
2004–07
District Council
(1.1.04 - 31.12.07)
Elected from among DC members 400 102 27 529
2008–11
District Council
(1.1.08 - 31.12.11)
Elected from among DC members 405 102 27 534
2012–15
District Council
(1.1.12 - 31.12.15)
Elected from among DC members 412 68 27 507
2016–19
District Council
(1.1.16 - 31.12.19)
Elected from among DC members 431 27 458

Source: Review of the Roles, Functions and Composition

Political make-up of the councils[edit]

As of 21 September 2017:

Council/
Party
CW WC E S YTM SSP KC WTS KT TW TM YL N TP SK ST KWT I TOTAL
DAB 5 4 10 2 8 5 8 7 10 4 8 6 7 6 8 7 8 3 116
FTU 6 2 2 1 4 4 3 1 3 1 27
BPA 4 3 5 1 3 1 3 20
NPP 1 1 2 2 3 9 1 19
Liberal 1 2 1 1 1 1 7
Roundtable 2 2 1 2 7
NTAS 1 1 2
FLU 1 1
Ind & others 4 5 7 8 4 2 6 6 16 7 5 22 8 6 3 3 4 11 127
Pro-Beijing 9 11 25 12 16 12 20 16 28 15 22 36 18 15 15 20 20 16 326
Democratic 4 2 3 1 1 2 3 3 1 4 2 3 1 7 4 41
ADPL 7 2 3 12
ND 1 1 3 6 1 12
Civic 4 1 1 1 2 1 1 11
NWSC 5 5
Labour 1 1 1 3
Frontier 1 1
DA 1 1
Ind & others 2 3 2 1 2 1 3 4 2 1 3 6 1 31
Pro-democrats 4 2 10 5 3 11 3 9 8 4 8 5 4 5 9 16 9 2 117
KEC 1 1
STCN 1 1
Ind & others 1 1 2 4
Localists 1 1 1 3 6
Others 1 5 1 7
Vacant 2 2
Councillors 15 13 35 17 19 23 24 25 37 20 30 41 22 21 29 39 30 18 458

Terms of office[edit]

Each term of the District Council lasts for four years. The first term began on 1 January 2000.

Under the district councillor appointment system, 102 district councillors out of 534 are picked by the chief executive. The remainder are democratically elected by voters in each district. In June 2010, the government announced it would make proposals on whether to scrap the system in the next Legco year, from October 2010.[6]

Independence[edit]

The party affiliations and politics in the Legislative Council can be echoed in the District Councils, who have sometimes been accused of slavishly supporting the government. Prof. Li Pang-kwong, of Lingnan University, says that the problematic framework of the councils, being under the Home Affairs Bureau, has led them to work too closely with government. He cites the example of the 'copy and paste' Queen's Pier motions passed by 13 councils to support government decisions as a rubber-stamp, and a clear sign that councils lacked independence. Dr Li recalled a similar government 'consultation' on universal suffrage in 2007, in which two-thirds of the councils passed a vote in support of its position. After it was revealed that the government was behind the concerted District Councils' motions in 2008 supporting the relocation of Queen's Pier, Albert Ho condemned the government of tampering with District Councils to "create public opinion", and for turning District officers into propagandists.[7]

Elections[edit]

District Council elections, 1999[edit]

In 1999, Tung Chee Hwa appointed 100 members to the District Councils. These included 41 from various political parties, namely the Liberal Party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), and the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance. No democrats were appointed.[8]

District Council elections, 2003[edit]

In 2003, Tung appointed 21 political party appointees to the District Councils to dilute the influence of the pan-democrats as follows:[9]

  • eight members of the Liberal Party
  • six members of the DAB
  • six members from the Progressive Alliance
  • one from the New Century Forum

Professor of politics and sociology at Lingnan University, Dr. Li Pang-kwong said "As in the past, most of the appointees were pro-government or persons without a clear political stance... ensur[ing] that no district council is in the hands of the democrats."[8]

A spokesman for the democrats said the appointees "will have an unfair advantage in that they are getting financial support from the government which will help them run for office in future elections."[8]

District Council elections, 2007[edit]

e • d Summary of the 18 November 2007 District Councils of Hong Kong election results
Political Affiliation Popular vote % % +/− Standing Elected +/−
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong 292,916 25.73 +2.79 178 115 +38
Liberal Party 50,026 4.39 +1.63 55 14 +4
Civil Force 30,880 2.71 +0.27 20 18 +1
Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions 4,208 0.37 +0.11 3 1 +1
Tseung Kwan O Residents' Association 1,922 0.17 - 1 1 -
Tin Shui Wai Women Association 1,457 0.13 - 1 1 -
Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions 1,339 0.12 +0.12 1 1 0
New Territories General Chamber of Commerce 818 0.07 - 1 0 -
New Century Forum 543 0.05 -0.03 1 0 0
Hong Kong Civic Association 390 0.03 - 5 0 -
Independents 226,645 19.91 - 161 118 -
Total for pro-Beijing camp 614,621 53.98 +7.38 430 273 -
Democratic Party 175,054 15.38 -5.90 110 59 -14
Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood 52,386 4.60 -0.46 37 17 -8
Civic Party 48,837 4.29 - 41 8 +1
League of Social Democrats 28,601 2.51 - 29 6 -6
Frontier 18,203 1.60 -0.81 15 3 -3
Neighbourhood and Workers Service Centre 12,565 1.10 -0.24 5 4 0
Yuen Long Tin Shui Wai Democratic Alliance 9,530 0.84 +0.04 11 1 -2
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions 2,273 0.20 -0.18 2 0 -2
Civic Act-up 991 0.09 -0.40 2 0 -2
Individuals 60,510 5.31 - 44 10 -
Total for Democratic Coalition for DC Election 409,573 35.97 - 296 108 -
Independent democrats and others 36,208 3.18 - 39 19 -
Total for pan-democracy camp 445,781 39.15 -5.51 335 127 -
Independent and others 78,133 6.86 -2.21 142 5 -
Total (turnout 38.83%) 1,138,358 100.0 - 907 405 +5

Note 1: The total seats of the District Councils are 534 including 27 ex-officio members (Rural Committee Chairmen in the New Territories), and 102 members appointed members by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
Note 2: Candidates ran under both DAB and FTU banners were all counted as DAB in this chart.


In December 2007, Donald Tsang named 27 government-appointed Council members.[9]

  • 13 members of the Liberal Party
  • 11 members of the DAB
  • three members from the Federation of Trade Unions

Tsang was criticised for not appointing a single member of the pan-democrats in either 2003 or 2007.[9]

District Council elections, 2011[edit]

e • d Summary of the 6 November 2011 District Councils of Hong Kong election results
Political Affiliation Popular vote % % +/− Standing Elected +/−
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong 282,119 23.89 -1.84 182 136 +17
Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions 36,646 3.10 +2.73 20 11 +7
Civil Force 35,221 2.98 +0.27 20 15 -3
Liberal Party 23,408 1.98 -2.41 24 9 +3
New People's Party 15,568 1.32 - 12 4 +3
Economic Synergy 2,404 0.20 - 3 1 +1
Fu Cheong Estate Residents Association 2,235 0.19 - 1 1 +1
New Territories Association of Societies 2,187 0.19 - 2 2 +1
Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions 1,859 0.16 +0.04 2 1 0
Pro-Beijing Independents 252,720 21.40 - 172 121 -4
Total for pro-Beijing camp 654,368 55.42 +1.77 438 301 +26
Democratic Party 205,716 17.42 +2.04 132 47 -3
Civic Party 47,603 4.03 -0.26 41 7 -5
Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood 45,453 3.85 -0.75 26 15 -1
Neo Democrats 25,437 2.15 - 10 8 0
Neighbourhood and Workers Service Centre 14,364 1.22 +0.11 6 5 +2
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions 4,044 0.34 +0.14 3 0 0
Power for Democracy 3,837 0.32 - 4 0 0
Individuals 23,007 1.95 -2.33 14 6 -1
Total for Democratic Coalition for DC Election 369,461 31.29 -3.60 236 88 -9
People Power 23,465 1.99 - 62 1 -1
League of Social Democrats 21,833 1.85 -0.66 28 0 -4
Land Justice League 3,025 0.26 - 4 0 0
Citizens' Radio 1,718 0.15 - 2 0 0
Independent democrats and others 45,015 3.81 - 37 14 -4
Total for pan-democracy camp 464,512 39.34 +0.18 369 103 -18
Independent and others 61,930 5.24 -1.96 108 8 +2
Total vaild votes 1,180,809 100.0 - 915 412 +7
Invaild votes 21,497
Total (turnout 41.49%) 1,202,544


After the election, Donald Tsang appointed 68 members, non of them were from the pan-democrats camp.

District Council elections, 2015[edit]

e • d Summary of the 22 November 2015 District Councils of Hong Kong election results
Political Affiliation Popular vote % % +/− Standing Elected +/−
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong 309,262 21.39 –2.50 171 119 ±0
Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions 88,292 6.11 +3.01 48 27 –2
New People's Party 75,793 5.24 +0.94 42 26 –1
Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong 27,452 1.90 - 16 10 –4
Liberal Party 25,157 1.74 –0.24 20 9 –1
Kowloon West New Dynamic 11,647 0.81 - 5 3 –1
Federation of Public Housing Estates 3,457 0.24 - 1 1 +1
Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions 3,168 0.22 +0.06 2 1 ±0
New Territories Association of Societies 2,356 0.16 –0.03 2 2 ±0
New Century Forum 1,717 0.12 - 1 0 –1
Pro-Beijing Independents 241,088 16.68 - 178 100
Total for pro-Beijing camp 788,389 54.61 –0.81 486 298 –6
Democratic Party 196,068 13.56 –3.86 95 43 +1
Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood 55,275 3.82 –0.03 26 18 +2
Civic Party 52,346 3.62 –0.41 25 10 +3
Neo Democrats 42,148 2.92 +0.77 16 15 +8
Labour Party 23,029 1.59 - 12 3 +2
Neighbourhood and Workers Service Centre 16,105 1.11 –0.11 6 5 ±0
League of Social Democrats 6,526 0.45 –1.40 5 0 ±0
Power for Democracy 3,938 0.27 –0.05 1 1 ±0
Sha Tin Community Network 3,718 0.26 - 2 1 +1
Individuals 52,612 3.64 - 38 9
Total for Democratic Coalition for DC Election 451,765 31.25 –0.04 226 105 +21
Youngspiration 12,520 0.87 - 9 1 +1
People Power 11,503 0.80 –1.19 9 0 ±0
Democratic Alliance 5,313 0.37 - 4 1 ±0
Tuen Mun Community 5,196 0.36 - 4 0 ±0
Civic Passion 3,006 0.21 - 6 0 ±0
Kowloon East Community 3,922 0.27 - 3 1 +1
Tsz Wan Shan Constructive Power 3,633 0.25 - 2 0 ±0
The Frontier 2,974 0.21 - 1 1 ±0
North of the Rings 1,710 0.12 - 1 0 ±0
Land Justice League 1,482 0.10 –0.16 1 0 ±0
Tsuen Wan Dynamic for the People 1,500 0.10 - 1 0 ±0
Independent democrats and others 77,767 5.38 - 66 17
Total for pro-democrats 581,058 40.20 +1.00 335 126 +25
Independent and others 75,079 5.19 –0.19 117 7 +4
Total valid votes 1,445,526 100.0 - 935 431 +19
Invalid votes 21,703
Total (turnout 47.01%) 1,467,229


After this election, this election would abolish the appointed members of the Hong Kong District Council.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Scott, Ian (1989). Political Change and the Crisis of Legitimacy in Hong Kong. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0824812697. , from p140
  2. ^ District Administration Hong Kong Government
  3. ^ Cheung,Gary (14 November 2009), "Universal suffrage an elusive goal", South China Morning Post
  4. ^ Carmen Cheung, "Referendum ruled out on seats issue" Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 20 January 1999
  5. ^ Lee, Diana, (15 April 2010). 'Grab this golden chance' Archived 29 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard
  6. ^ Lau takes on the radicals Archived 29 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 28 June 2010, Phila Siu and Colleen Lee
  7. ^ Olga Wong & Joyce Ng, (24 June 2008). "'Rubber stamp' council lashed over pier vote". South China Morning Post. pp. Pg A3. 
  8. ^ a b c Michael Ng, Tung picks 'dilute' bodies Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Standard, 29 December 2003
  9. ^ a b c Frank Ching, "Tsang grooms his kind of political talent", Pg A12, South China Morning Post, 24 June 2008

External links[edit]