An estimated HK$2.5 million tax dollars have been spent in less than two weeks to promote Beijing’s proposed overhaul of Hong Kong elections, it has been revealed.

The city’s government has told HKFP that the sum was spent on short videos shown on various platforms and banners displayed in different districts before the details of the electoral overhaul were discussed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC).

Government promotional video for election overhaul. Photo: gov.hk, via video screenshot.

There are currently five episodes of the promotional video, which include interviews with Chief Executive Carrie Lam and pro-Beijing figures such as Maria Tam, Lau Siu-kai, and Priscilla Leung.

A government spokesperson said the administration “spares no effort in explaining to the public about the necessity and urgency of improving the electoral system” and the “solid constitution basis of the NPC’s decision”.

In comparison, the government spent HK$7 million as of June 26, 2020 on promoting the national security law.

HKFP submitted questions to the government’s Information Services Department (ISD) last Thursday – including a request for an item-by-item breakdown of promotional costs – but the department’s reply, a week later, only provided a lump sum.

On March 11, the NPC passed a resolution to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system, as part of a bid to ensure only “patriots” hold power in the city.

A government banner promoting the electoral overhaul, photographed outside the MacPherson Playground in Mong Kok. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The number of members on the Chief Executive Election Committee will be expanded from 1,200 to 1,500, and they will also be responsible for nominating and electing a number of Hong Kong’s lawmakers.

While the Standing Committee of China’s top legislature will discuss more details on Monday, the resolution passed by the National People’s Congress (NPC) stipulates that there will be 20 more seats in the LegCo, taking the total to 90. The Election Committee will also select “a larger proportion” of legislators.

The committee will also be responsible for nominating and electing a number of Hong Kong’s lawmakers, creating a third constituency in addition to the current geographical and functional constituencies.

Additional reporting: Tom Grundy

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.