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However, the democratic culture in Hong Kong is relatively young, and although the protests at the events at Tiananmen Square in 1989 proved an important impetus to the democratic movement, it could be argued that pressure for democratisation was also a reflection of the prodigious economic development of Hong Kong. A link is often made between economic development and the pressure to democratise. As Hook (1997: 558) notes, by the 1980s, Britain was under ‘mounting pressure from representatives of an educated, articulate and professionally highly successful indigenous middle class to introduce democratic reforms in the system of representational government’. However,

during a period of growing democratic movements was

economic observed

prosperity, an actual in the early 1990s.

decline in support for Although Sing (1996:

pro- 487)

argues that in provoked with

‘a booming economy’, more public demands, frustrations and conflicts the government it appears that economic prosperity for the majority of

are the

population diverted attention away from political participation. Jones (1990: dismissed this middle-class pressure as being limited to concern over the impending hand-over, and the apparent stagnation of the Democrats appears to confirm this view.

451) 1997

Sing (1996) refutes the modernization thesis with respect to democratisation in

Hong class,

Kong.

it

cannot

Although economic growth allowed the development of

be

treated

as

a

heterogeneous

group.

The

middle-class

a is

large middle split between

business and technical professions and democracy that may usher in the welfare

service professions, with the former hostile state and the latter, who are more sympathetic

to to

the ideals of social ‘one country, two

equality and democracy. The systems’ formula promised

transition to SAR status under Hong Kong a high degree

the PRC’s of political

autonomy. Hong Kong’s electorate tends to be stereotyped although this argument was not supported by the relatively elections in May 1998 and again in September 2000 (with respectively).

as being politically apathetic, large turn-outs for the Legco turn-outs of 53% and 43.5%

We might assume that a slow pace of democratisation would require a more responsive public administration in the absence of political accountability. LeHerissier (1995: 205) predicted that gradual democratisation would allow greater external pressures to be brought to bear on the civil service in Hong Kong. The ‘soft democracy’ cautiously introduced by Patten was designed to assuage conservative and business elite fears that democratisation would actually undermine the efficiency of the civil service.

12

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