Concerts, drone show, and free museum visits to promote Hong Kong’s ‘patriots’ District Council race

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Hong Kong will hold a series of activities, including outdoor music performances, a drone show and a Security Bureau-themed photograph exhibition, the day before the “patriots-only” District Council elections to encourage the public to vote.

Volunteers for the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB)’s Jody Kwok Fu-yung campaign ahead of the District Council elections on November 25, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Addressing reporters on Tuesday, Chief Executive John Lee said next Saturday’s activities were aimed at “further enhancing the election atmosphere.”

There will be activities along the Wan Chai and Kwun Tong promenades during the day, and an outdoor music concert and drone show at night.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department will also organise activities at six outdoor venues with “athletic elements.”

The Hong Kong Science Museum, Hong Kong Space Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art and Hong Kong Wetland Park will also offer free admission next Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Central Library in Causeway Bay will host a photography exhibition featuring the disciplined forces under the Security Bureau, including the Hong Kong Police Force and the Correctional Services Department.

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In collaboration with bus company Kowloon Motor Bus, the Environment and Ecology Bureau will showcase vintage and electric buses at a depot in Lai Chi Kok. The Education Bureau will also work with organisations to hold activities for families to get to know their district.

Lee added that there would be two televised election forums this week, during which candidates will introduce their platforms and aspirations.

“I encourage residents to pay attention to media reports and understand the candidates in their district, [so they can] choose the person they think would be the most able, passionate, suitable and competent district councillor,” he said in Cantonese.

Patriotism as a ‘basic requirement’

Hong Kong’s upcoming district race will take place on December 10. It will be the first since the authorities overhauled the electoral system, requiring candidates to obtain nominations from committees stacked with pro-government figures and introducing a vetting process to ensure patriotism. The number of democratically elected seats was also slashed from 452 to 88.

District boundaries have also been withdrawn, with the city now carved into 44 large voter constituencies – down from over 400, which allowed district councillors to more closely cater to residents in their area.

District Council members for the rest of the 300-odd seats will be voted on by government-appointed committees and selected by Lee.

Asked by HKFP how the members will be picked, Lee said on Tuesday that the government would look at “what [they] will contribute to the overall good.”

“This of course will involve, first of all, experience, his background, his knowledge of the district, [and] whether he has specific professional knowledge or particular interest [in] issues that we believe will be of contribution,” he said.

He added that the “basic requirement” was that a potential District Council member “of course has to be a patriot” who upholds the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, and bears allegiance to the city.

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“We want to ensure all District Council members will fulfil their duties as a member of this consultative council for the benefit of people living in the district,” Lee said.

While officials have urged the public to vote in the lead up to the election, they have also downplayed the importance of voter turnout, saying the number of voters is determined by a wide range of factors and does not necessarily reflect the value of the new electoral system.

The Legislative Council election in 2021, which was also overhauled to ensure only “patriots” could run, saw a record low turnout.

A survey done in late September to early October by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups found that almost 50 per cent of registered youth voters said they probably or definitely would not vote.

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