Telecoms and media entrepreneur Ricky Wong Wai-kay has said he will launch an online voting platform to collect public opinions on controversial issues, if he manages to win a Legislative Council seat in September. However, the platform will not be used for discussions regarding Hong Kong independence or self-determination, he said.
“You can see the executive-dominant system cannot be implemented as many [policies] receive opposition,” he said, citing the Swiss referendum model in his election platform. “This can help a lame duck government to effectively collect public opinion.”
He plans to roll out the system in three steps: first, it will be used by voters on Hong Kong Island, where he will be running. Then, all voters will be invited to give their opinion. The final step would be for the general public to decide on policies – effectively a referendum – in ten to 15 years, when the public – including elderly people – fully understand and use the system.
Discuss, decide, bear responsibility
Using land reform as an example, Wong gave six proposals to develop land to accommodate Hongkongers in his 100-page election platform.
The plans included using abandoned farmland, turning golf courses into residential areas, reforming the Small House Policy, land reclamation, using deserted or damaged agricultural and industrial land, and developing outlying islands and country parks with restrictions.
“If we make all this information public for Hong Kong people to discuss, decide, and bear responsibility together, we can live in larger space and accommodate more people,” he said.
He said he will implement the plan if elected, regardless of any criticism that it might not work, as he will be paying for the system himself.
“If other parties, other friends will cooperate, we can do it across the whole of Hong Kong,” he said. “In the end, whether the Hong Kong government or the central government will accept [the result], that will be the third step.”
He said that existing technology can ensure the identity of people voting on the platform.
Wong also said in the election platform that he did not support Hong Kong independence, but he did not oppose the discussion about it.
He said the electronic voting platform would not be used as a tool for Hong Kong independence or self-determination, as it was for discussing issues for the LegCo under the framework of the Basic Law and existing laws.
Asked if he would still make the platform if he lost the election, he said he would consider it.
“If I am not a lawmaker, I cannot vote on behalf of the voters after I collect public opinion – that’s meaningless,” he said. “But I would consider whether to do it as a civil think tank if I lost.”
Meanwhile, Wong said in his platform that it is necessary for Hong Kong to legislate on the controversial national security law – also known as Basic Law Article 23 – locally.
He said that most of the requirements in the article have already been covered by existing local laws: “If we use those laws to complete the legislation… they would fulfill the requirements.”
“This will make Hong Kong people less worried,” he said.
Some of the policies proposed by Wong also attracted criticism. He supported the government’s proposal of having a nomination committee pick Chief Executive candidates before a popular vote, as well as land reclamation and the third runway system at the airport. He opposed the legislation of standard working hours.
“You can see he tried to find middle ground in the current confrontations between people, that is very ‘Hong Kong style’ in doing so,” said Au Nok-hin, a Democratic Party district councillor planning to run for LegCo. “But ultimately it is an election platform based on developmentalism.”