‘Mass resignations have crippled district councils’

District councillors on Friday called on the government to provide a solution to the standstill at some councils, whose memberships have been decimated by mass resignations this month.

While there have been resignations of individual district councillors in previous months, the exodus of elected members in recent weeks has created scores of new vacancies. The government announced earlier on Friday that 214 seats are either now or will soon be vacant.

Mandy Tam, one of only three councillors remaining in the Wong Tai Sin District Council, said they can no longer even hold meetings to discuss community issues.

Twenty members of the district’s council have quit, including its chairperson and vice-chairperson.

“Without a chairperson, who’s going to hold the meeting? The government needs to sort out what’s best to do. They have to work out the way to re-elect a chairperson and a vice-chairperson in order for the meetings to continue,” she said.

Tam said she had been kept busy recently as many Wong Tai Sin residents from constituencies that no longer have a district councillor have turned to her office for help.

She said they had come to her for help on hygiene problems in the district, as well as regarding registration for the HK$5,000 spending vouchers.

The Central and Western District Council faces the same problem, with only three councillors left in office, after seven quit this month.

The Liberal Party’s Jeremy Young, one of the three who remain, said without meetings, he couldn’t represent and submit residents’ views to the government.

He said they couldn’t even have a new chairman now as council guidelines state that at least four members must be present for the election of a chairman.

“We can’t even officially have a meeting that is legitimate. There’s a whole vacuum that our existing guidelines probably never thought about this dire situation that there’ll be mass resignations in one go,” he said.

“I saw some news that the government will look into this. Otherwise, it is a bit of a waste of time having two years of no council meetings.”

District councillors in all 18 districts tendered their resignations this month amid rumours that the government will seek financial compensation from members who are disqualified under new oath-taking requirements.

The requirement is aimed at weeding out those deemed unpatriotic.

In the last district council elections in 2019, pro-democracy parties took nearly 90 percent of the 452 seats.
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Last updated: 2021-07-16 HKT 15:09