立場新聞 Stand News

補選的真正輸家是我們依法建立的政制 The real loser of last weekends by-election is our constituted political system

2018/3/19 — 10:13

立法會補選當日,姚松炎團隊在佐敦、油麻地一帶拉票(攝於 2018年3月11日)

立法會補選當日,姚松炎團隊在佐敦、油麻地一帶拉票(攝於 2018年3月11日)

(中譯由 Ben 提供)

上週日 (11.3) 立法會補選結果,民主派和建制派平分秋色,四個議席各佔一半。

不過,這結果其實代表了民主派敗陣,因為補選是在四名民主派議員被撤銷資格後舉行的,實際上是損失了兩個議席,令泛民主派在立法會上不夠議席否決議案。而即將進行的法庭裁決,也可能會決定撤銷另外兩個議席。

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然而,引起公眾擔憂的,不是那些被 DQ 的議員做出考慮欠周的舉動,而是合法當選的立法會議員竟陸續被取消資格,這種怪事說好聽點,就是想考驗一下香港法治的根基。北京每次(重新)解釋「基本法」(特別在法庭進行相關裁決前),不僅是質疑我們對法律的理解,威脅到我們的法制獨立,更令公眾對我們最重要的公共機構喪失了不少信心。

民主派希望大家將這次補選視為對被 DQ 的議員來一次「變相公投」。但這是呼籲市民支持民主派的政治立場?還是訴諸公眾的同情,投下反對票,好吸引更多選民?

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建制派政黨資金充裕,且獲得街坊社團大力支持,不愁沒有基層團體投票。每次選舉,都聽說民建聯那些大叔大媽,組成「革命老紅軍」,坐上一輛輛大巴,浩浩蕩蕩,大舉「長征」,湧向投票站,每一票都投以最堅定的信念,換來最實用的優惠券。

這種「群眾基礎」,任何民主派政黨都無福消受,也從來不敢奢想,畢竟這跟他們的政治理想頗有抵觸。既然他們資源有限,唯有設法吸引那些視實際情況作出抉擇、懂得獨立思考的忠實支持者,這些人主要來自受過教育、有社會理想的都市中下階層及中產階級。

民主派候選人范國威和區諾軒,雖在各自的地方選區(新界東和香港島)贏得了議席,但新聞界指出其勝出幅度比原先預期為低。

然而,根據《立場新聞》和《端傳媒》對投票的進一步分析,以及對選舉背景的了解,實際上顯示的完全是另一回事。英語和國際報刊所報導的,只不過如美聯社的標題所示:「香港民主運動失利」。這不僅有違事實——因為民主運動遠不限於議會內的政黨活動,而且也錯過了這次選舉結果會揭示的重大變化。

范國威、區諾軒和姚松炎在各自選區爭戰時,要克服原先已對他們不利的重大考驗。

在最近一次、 2016 年的立法會選舉中,民主派候選人獲得 57.6% 的選票,並在新界東九個選區議席中獲得六席,但這次泛民主派的范國威僅獲 183,762 票,得票率為 44% 。

事實上,范國威的 44% 選票明顯多於上屆大選楊岳橋所獲的 37% 。阻止香港本土民主前線提名為候選人,是導致這種差異的原因。 2016 年,本民前的發言人梁天琦是四位被撤銷資格的議員之一,獲得了 17% 的選票。

同樣,事前也有人期望爭戰港島的區諾軒,會贏得比這次 51% 更多的選票。區諾軒曾積極參與社會運動,初涉政壇,即獲得 137,181 張選票,遠低於 2007 年政壇重頭人物陳方安生在類似補選中獲得的 175,874 票。儘管如此,一來區諾軒和當年陳方安生的知名度如此懸殊,二來他這次參選是臨時決定,替補最近提名被拒的周庭。周庭可以說是新一代學生運動中最受歡迎和最有能力的人,由他替補是情況所需。若按某評論員所言,說區諾軒勝出仍「代表 38,324 票的損失」,無疑極之誤導讀者(就連票數加減也算錯了,該是 38,693 票)。

但地位最尷尬,像鴨子離水般不自在的,是姚松炎。他曾是建築、測量、都市規劃及園境界功能界別的代表,理論上該是實力強大的候選人,但是泛民把他空降到西九龍,而在該區資歷深厚的馮檢基反不受重視,忽視了該區許多居民更樂意支持後者。

香港民主民生協進會領導人馮檢基,是資深民主派,在議會內的表現可能缺乏姚松炎的學者風采,但他是少數真正關心基層民主的人士,在貧苦大眾聚居的地區擁有許多擁躉。幾個月前,馮檢基在民主派初選中宣佈退出,此舉難免會令他的許多支持者不滿,他們也不太可能會改投姚松炎一票。而選舉結果及事後調查顯示,這些人並沒有投票。

姚松炎沿著彌敦道騎著黃色自行車的照片,可能對塑造其媒體形像頗有好處,但那些照片最明顯之處,是看不到有任何公眾參與。廣泛的​​社交媒體宣傳和騎上自行車在城中兜轉,可能會為他贏得港島的議席,但在深水埗的貧困地區,只有真誠投入,積極落區宣傳,才會贏得選票。

鑑於這些情況,坦白說,在民建聯的雄厚資助和強大組織支持下,建制派候選人鄭泳舜竟然沒有贏得大多數票,反令人覺得奇怪。他勝出還不到 1% ,相差之微,大有理由來一次重新點票。可是大家卻將其險勝視為「驚喜」,並在建制派文章中吹噓這是港人普遍支持北京路線的證據。須知道,對一方棄權並不表示對另一方支持。

只有在建測規園界的功能組別補選中,建制派的謝偉銓(2929 票)大敗民主派候選人司馬文(2345 票)。就連南華早報的高級評論員盧綱也看出:「早在補選前,自從司馬文的西貢寓所揭發出多項僭建而惹上麻煩起,他已注定失敗。」

但是讓我們不要忘記,司馬文在宣布參選時已身處劣勢。謝偉銓曾獲這組別的議席,無論其政治傾向如何,一直具有良好的專業聲譽,是個優秀的候選人。不過,這一點在他贏得議席後幾乎沒人提及。

比選舉結果更重要的,是選舉本身似乎反映了什麼現象。此刻要考慮的重要數字,不是誰獲得的票有多少,而是投票率如何。

四個選區有 210 萬登記選民,其中只有 90.4 萬人投票,選民投票率為 43% ,選區之間差距不超過 2% 。與 2012 年和 2016 年兩次大選相比,投票率大幅下降,因為當時分別有 53% 和 55% 的合格選民投票。

在三個地方選區補選中,支持建制派候選人的總體投票量,並不比往年多了很多,這再次表明他們只靠一些核心團體來支持。而我已說過,產生重要變化的,反而是民主派候選人的選票。因此,從補選結果中可見,越來越多本來傾向投民主派一票的人,選擇不再投票。

這首先是由於政府所容許的民意代表已縮小了範圍。許多主張自決的政黨,包括 2016 年大選表現出色的本土民主前線和青年新政,因其立法會議員已被取消資格,再無法提名候選人。然而,其他較溫和的民主派,如范國威、區諾軒和姚松炎,以為可以有更多意外得益,卻未能一償所願。顯然,泛民陣營並不代表全面的民主運動,也不能吸引所有擁護民主的人。

在立法機關內的溫和派,與認為政府和北京根本不顧民怨而對之失去信心的人,兩者所追求的民主運動依然有嚴重分歧。因此,補選結果並不代表反對派或民主派陣營失利,而只代表蒙受損失的,是那些仍留在立法機構、尚未被褫奪權利、未被定性為非法,或未被禁止提名候選人的政黨——-而現行政府正扭盡六壬,不惜用以上種種手段,去剝奪我們理應受「基本法」保障的權利。

補選結果並不反映香港民主運動失利,而表示香港民主運動不得不這樣走下去,也代表了民眾對依法設立的政制失卻信心,之所以如此,從撤銷議員資格一事,就可思過半了。

越來越多人有目共睹,一個依法設立的政制遭人濫用,而濫用者正是理應捍衛政制的政壇人物。在這種情況下,別再指望人們會藉助官方的政治舞台,來與權威打交道。

人民的民主願望依然存在,這願望與我們的人性息息相關。要人民屈服於欺凌者的淫威之下,服膺強權即公理,始終有個限度。香港人的民主願望不需要被主流政治視如洪水猛獸,更不應被標籤為不愛國,否則只會催生更多激進暴力。

2018 年補選的真正輸家,不是民主運動,而是香港人已失去信心的的政治制度。無論基本法的承諾是甚麼,重新恢復大家對政制的信心,對任何政黨都是有利無弊。

*  *  *

The results of last weekend’s Legislative Council by-election were split evenly between the pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps, with each returning two of the four seats contested.

The results however do represent a loss for the pro-democracy camp, given that the by-election was called following the disqualification of four of pro-democracy legislators. The loss of these two seats is an effective loss, as the pan-democrats will no longer have sufficient seats in the Legislative Council to veto legislation. Indeed, two further seats may be vacated pending upcoming court rulings.

However, it is not the ill-considered actions of the disqualified legislators that has caused public concern, but the process by which legally elected legislators were disqualified — a process that has at best challenged the rule of law in Hong Kong. Every (re)interpreted of the Basic Law by Beijing, especially prior to a related court ruling, not only challenges our understanding of the law and threatens the independence of our legal system, but also diminishes public confidence in our most important public institution.

The democratic camp sold this by-election as a “de facto referendum” on these disqualifications. But was this a call to support a political position or a play for the sympathy and opposition vote as a means to get more voters to the booth?

Pro-establishment parties, who are better financed and receive significant support through traditional community organisations, can consistently rely on a grassroots bloc vote. Colloquially called DAB ‘uncles and aunties’, every election is marred by stories of this greying red army being bussed in to vote — a vote secured as much by coupons as personal conviction.

This is a support base no pro-democracy party can call on, and given the politics for which they stand ought never consider cultivating. Instead, with far more limited resources, they must rely on appealing to a more fickle and independently minded crowd of core supporters drawn predominantly from the educated, aspirational and urban lower middle and middle classes.

Whilst pro-democracy candidates Gary Fan Kwok-wai and Au Nok-hin both won their seats comfortable in their respective geographical constituencies, New Territories East and Hong Kong Island, the press have been quite right to point out that the winning margins were less than may had expected.

However further analysis of the vote as reported by Stand News and Initium, and an understanding of the context in which these elections were held tell an altogether different story. Much of the English language and International Press have reported only, to take an Associated Press headline, that the ‘Hong Kong pro-democracy movement loses ground’. Not only can this not be stated as fact — the democratic movement is much more than those political parties within the legislature —but it also misses a more significant change that these elections results likely highlight.

Gary Fan, Au Nok-hin and Edward Yiu had considerable challenges to overcome not of their own making in contesting their respective constituencies.

At the last general election in 2016 pro-democracy candidates received 57.6 percent of votes and pocketed six out of the nine constituency seats in New Territories East, But on this occasion, Gary Fan, of the Pan-democracy camp, only managed to secure 183,762 votes, or 44 percent of the vote.

In fact, Fan’s 44 percent is significantly higher than the 37% Alvin Yeung managed in winning the previous election. The barring of Hong Kong Indigenous from fielding a candidate accounts for the discrepancy. Edward Leung Tin-kei, the party’s founder and one of the four lawmaker to be disqualified had won 17% of the vote in 2016.

Similarly, Au Nok-hin, contesting Hong Kong Island, was also expected to do better than he did in winning 51% of the vote. Au’s, a former activist and new-comer to politics received 137,181 votes, far less than the 175,874 votes political heavyweight Anson Chan Fang On-sang received in a similar by-election in 2007. However, given the relative profile of the two, and the fact that Au’s candidacy was only put forward following the recent debarring of Agnes Chow, arguably the most popular and able of the new generation of student activists, reports describing Au’s win as, to quote one commentator, ‘representing a loss of 38,324 votes’ is deeply misleading.  (And yes, these numbers do not add up.)

But the more obvious duck out of water was Edward Yiu Chung-yim. The former representative for the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency may have on paper appeared a strong candidate, but by parachuting him in as their candidate the pan-democrats also sidelined veteran local politician Frederick Fung Kin-kee, who was to many residents in the constituency a far more appealing choice.

Fung, a long serving democratic and leader of the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihoods may lack Yiu’s presence in the chamber, but he is one of the few truly grassroots democrats with a loyal support base in one of the territories poorer constituencies. The saga of Fung’s resignation from the candidacy some months ago following a territory wide ‘pseudo-referendum’ called by the pan-democratic camp understandably left many of his supporters unhappy and unlikely to vote for Yiu. The results coupled with post-election surveys suggest they did not vote.

Photographs of Yiu riding a yellow bicycle along Nathan Road may have be good for his media profile, but even at the time what stood out most about the pictures was the lack of any popular public engagement. Solid social media skills and a cycling around town may win you seats on the island, but not among the poorer neighbourhoods of Shamshuipo, where sincere and committed social advocacy win votes.

Given these circumstances it is frankly surprising that pro-establishment candidate Vincent Cheng Wing-shun, with the considerable financial and organisational support of the DAB, did not win by a larger majority. His margin of victory was less than 1 percent, and sufficiently slim to warrant a recount. And yet, his win was universally reported as a ‘surprise’ and, in pro-establishment papers, as evidence of public support for Beijing’s line. Yet abstention is not a sign of support.

Only in the one functional constituency contested, that for the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sectors, did the pro-establishment candidate, Tony Tse Wai-chuen (2,929 votes) soundly beat the pro-democracy candidate, Paul Zimmerman (2,345). But as was obvious even to Alex Lo, writing in the South China Morning Post, Zimmerman had ‘became a lost cause long before Sunday, thanks largely to his trouble with illegal structures found at his home in Sai Kung.’

But let us not forget that Zimmerman was already very much the underdog when he announced his candidacy. Tse, a past representative of the constituency who had, regardless of his political leanings, maintained a good standing within his profession was a strong candidate. And yet, this is a point hardly mentioned following his win.

More important than the results though is what the election itself seems to be reflecting. Here the more important numbers to consider are not those that show the way votes were cast but those of voter turn-out.

Only 904,000 of 2.1 million registered voters in the four constituencies cast their ballots; a voter turnout rate of 43 percent, with a deviation between constituencies of no more than 2 percent. This represents a significantly fall on the two previous general elections in 2012 and 2016 when 53 percent and 55 percent of eligible voters voted.

In the three geographic constituencies contests overall votes cast for pro-establishment candidates were not significantly more than they had been in past, again suggesting a reliance on a core bloc of support. It was in votes for pro-democracy candidate, as I have already stated, that we see significant movement. Therefore the message to be taken from the by-election results is that an increasing number of people predisposed to voting for pro-democracy positions are choosing no longer to vote.

This is firstly due to a narrowing of representation tolerated by the government. The many political parties advocating self-determination as an option, including among others Hong Kong Indigenous and Youngspiration that did so well in the 2016 general election and whose legislators have been disqualified, were debarred from fielding candidates. And yet the expected windfall to other more moderate democratic positions as represented in Fan, Au and Yiu failed to materialise. Clearly the pan-democratic camp do not represent nor appeal to the full spectrum of the democratic movement.

The democratic movement remains critically split between those more moderate voices within the legislature and those who have lost faith in both the government and Beijing to even hear out their grievances. The by-election results therefore do not represent a loss for the opposition or pro-democracy camp, but for those parties still in the legislature who have not been debarred, declared illegal or prevented from fielding candidates — all actions taken by this current government and actions that contravene the rights we were supposedly guaranteed under the Basic Law.

The by-election results do not reflect a loss for the democracy movement in Hong Kong, but the way it is being forced to evolve. It represents too a loss of faith in the constituted political system that is fully understandable given the disqualification saga.

It has become increasingly obvious to an increasing number of people that the constituted political system is open to abuse by those within the political establishment who ought by principle to be its guardian. In such circumstances one can no longer presume that people will turn to official politics as the arena through which they seek to interact with authority.

The democratic aspirations of all people remain. It is tied to our nature, and there is only so long one can cower before the bullying force and argument that might is right. These aspirations in Hong Kong need not be further alienated from mainstream politics, let alone deemed as unpatriotic, which merely adds impetus to further radicalisation. 

The real loser of the 2018 by-election is therefore not the democratic movement, but Hong Kong’s political system in which people have lost faith. Regardless of what was agreed in the Basic Law, it is surely in the interests of all parties that faith in the political system is rebuilt.

 

 

 

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