Government officials prematurely exited a meeting of the Sham Shui Po District Council on Tuesday after councillors attempted to discuss the proposed reforms of the district-level elections. They claimed the discussion was “out of the scope” of the District Councils’ remit.

Paul Wong Sham Shui Po District Officer
Sham Shui Po District Officer Paul Wong left in the middle of Tuesday’s District Council meeting. Photo: Sham Shui Po District Council Live, via Facebook screenshot.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Vice-Chairperson of the Sham Shui Po District Council Janet Ng said she would like to convey concerns collected from residents over the government’s proposed overhaul of the local elections, as she would not be able to attend an upcoming consultation meeting.

Last week, Hong Kong unveiled plans to cut the number of democratically elected seats at District Councils to around 20 per cent, redraw districts, and introduce national security background checks for all candidates. The move came after the pro-democracy camp won by a landslide in the previous election amid the 2019 protests and unrest.

Interrupting Ng’s speech, District Officer Paul Wong cited opinions from the Department of Justice and said the issue Ng raised was a “city-wide affair” which would be “out of the scope of the District Councils’ functions written in Section 61 of the District Council Ordinance.”

Wong then announced that they would not provide secretariat support for the discussion and that government representatives will immediately leave the meeting.

Echoing the officer, two District Councillors from the pro-Beijing DAB party also left, leaving only five members at the meeting.

Janet Ng Sham Shui Po District Council
Janet Ng, the vice chairperson of the Sham Shui Po District Council. Photo: Sham Shui Po District Council Live, via Facebook screenshot.

After the officials’ departure, Ng told the remaining councillors that – following the reforms – she would be worried that the public would not know “who was serving them,” as a large proportion of seats would be directly appointed by the chief executive.


Ng told HKFP on Wednesday morning that the departure of officials was “expected,” as they had cited similar reasons in the past “whenever they did not want to leave a written record at District Council meetings.”

She added that she would not take part in the upcoming District Council elections under the government’s suggested reforms, despite having served as a member of the Sham Shui Po council for eight years.

“I think they no longer need to listen to the public’s opinions,” Ng said, adding that “they ask all future District Councillors to help promote their policies, while none of the members can discuss what they call ‘city-wide affairs.’ This is an executive-led system, where [decisions] are top-down.”

John Lee Erick Tsang Eric Chan Paul Lam
Hong Kong government officials attend a press conference on May 2, 2023 about the proposed amendments to the District Councils. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

“However, in a democratic society… District Councils are hoping to push forward policies from the bottom-up, so that they are helpful for the public – now everything is inverted.” Ng added.

When introducing the election reform last Tuesday, Chief Executive John Lee said reforms were meant to prevent the district-level consultation bodies from being used as “a platform for [advocating] black riots, Hong Kong independence and mutual destruction.”

“We must prevent those who opposed China and stirred up chaos in Hong Kong from hijacking, manipulating, paralysing the District Councils,” Lee said.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.