Building Democracy: Creating Good Government for Hong Kong

By Christine Loh | Go to book overview

Introduction
Enhancing Democratic Participation in Hong Kong

Christine Loh

This volume provides a collection of short essays about democracy and democratic participation written by a group of local experts as part of Civic Exchange’s Enhancing Democratic Participation Project and aimed at a general audience. The Project was put together in 2002 at a moment when Hong Kong people appeared to have regained their interest in democratic development. Since 1997, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has shown little interest in discussing constitutional reform and the public seemed to have lost heart for pursuing the subject vigorously. However, due to the inexperience of the current administration and a series of policy failures in various areas over the last six years, Hong Kong now faces a crisis of governance, which may be curable only with fundamental reform of the political system.

It is appropriate at this point to provide a basic definition of what is meant by the terms “democracy” and “democratic participation.” Democracy entails the twin principles of popular control over collective decisionmaking and equality of rights in the exercise of that control.1 Thus, a democracy is a jurisdiction practising government by the people through elected representatives chosen by a universal suffrage system. To the extent that the principles of popular control and equality of rights are realised in the decision-making of any association and gathering, we may refer to this as “democratic participation.” Thus, democracy can also be seen as a way of life that can be practised every day in the activities of groups and organisations. In other words, democracy is a culture with a specific set of values that shape our mentality and attitudes towards issues

1 Beetham, David and Kevin Boyle (1995), Introducing Democracy - 80 Questions and Answers, Polity Press, UNESCO Publishing, p. 1.

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