Civic Exchange released a commissioned report by Professor Richard Cullen today discussing whether it is necessary for Hong Kong to have a special law governing political parties to help their further development in the HKSAR. Civic Exchange commissioned the study because there is growing interest in the development of
political parties but very little work has been done as yet.
Professor Cullen concludes that, contrary to conventional wisdom, a new Political Party Ordinance is not needed in Hong Kong. He argues that Hong Kong already has a basically sound – though incomplete – political infrastructure governing the conduct of elections (and, indirectly, the operation of political parties) in the HKSAR. The way forward, he says, is to build on these essentially positive foundations using
a series of legislative and related initiatives.
The study draws heavily on the Australian experience with regulating elections and political parties. The basic regulatory system in Australia is now over 100 years old. It has been steadily improved over time and, unlike in the US, for example, it is widely regarded by participants from all sides of politics as working well.
The study recommends a number of key areas for improvement including: a new, comprehensive political party registration system; an improved public funding regime; much enhanced funding transparency; retention of the ban on broadcast election advertising; and a joint Government-Legco standing committee to review the future operation of Hong Kong’s political – electoral, regulatory infrastructure.
Professor Cullen notes that this approach retains and works with what is best in the current system. It also avoids both the cost and risks of trying to legislate, from scratch, a new, error free, regime for regulating political parties.
Richard Cullen is based in the Department of Business Law and Taxation at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He also has spent almost a decade working in Hong Kong, primarily in the School of Law at the City University of Hong Kong. He has written over 100 book chapters, articles, notes and comments and has authored or co-authored several books and monographs. His main research interests relate to Hong Kong and Mainland China. He has been a Research Associate with Civic Exchange since 2002.