District councils of Hong Kong

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District Council of the
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

香港特別行政區區議會
Structure
District Council of HKSAR Seat-180102.svg
Political groups
Elections
Single-member district
Last election
22 November, 2015
Next election
24 November, 2019
Hkpol2.png
Politics and government
of Hong Kong
Related topics Flag of Hong Kong.svg Hong Kong portal
District council
Traditional Chinese區議會

The district councils, formerly district boards until 1999, are the local councils for the 18 districts of Hong Kong. Under the supervision of Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong Government, administration and affairs.

History[edit]

An early basis for the delivery of local services were the Kaifong associations, set up in 1949. However, by the 1960s, these had ceased to represent local interests, and so, in 1968, the government established the first local administrative structure with the city district offices, which were intended to enable it to mobilise support for its policies and programmes, such as in health and crime-reduction campaigns. An aim was also to monitor the grass roots, following the 1967 riots.[1]

Under the Community Involvement Plan, launched in the early 1970s, Hong Kong and Kowloon were divided into 74 areas, each of around 45,000 people. For each, an 'area committee' of twenty members was then appointed by the city district officers, and was comprised, for the first time, of members from all sectors of the local community, led by an unofficial member of the Legislative Council (Legco); the initial purpose was to help implement the 'Clean Hong Kong' campaign, by distributing publicity material to local people.This was held to be a success.[1]

A next stage in the government's effort to increase local engagement and influence was the setting up, in June 1973, of mutual aid committees (MACs) in high-rise residential buildings; these were described in Legco as "a group of responsible citizens, resident in the same multi-storey building who work together to solve common problems of cleanliness and security." In fact, they were tightly controlled by the government. With government encouragement, the number of such committees increased rapidly in these private buildings, from 1,214 in 1973 to 3,463 in 1980; the scheme was extended to public housing estates, of which 800 had MACs in 1980, as well as factories and in the New Territories.[1]

The next development was the establishment of eight district advisory boards in the districts of the New Territories, starting with Tsuen Wan in 1977; the boards, whose members were appointed, were more formally constituted than the city district boards, charged with advising on local matters, recommending minor district works, and conducting cultural and recreational activities.

Then in 1982, under the governorship of Sir Murray MacLehose, the district boards were established under the District Administration Scheme; the aim was to improve co-ordination of government activities in the provision of services and facilities at the district level and the boards initially took over the roles of the district advisory boards.[1][2]

At first, the boards comprised only appointed members and government officials, but from 1982, a proportion of each was elected.[1] In an attempt to inject a democratic element into the Legislative Council, the government introduced a model where some legislators were elected indirectly by members of the district councils. Twelve legislators were returned by an 'electoral college' of district councillors in 1985; the practice was repeated in 1988 and 1995.[3]

After the HKSAR was established, as part of the 'through train', the district boards became provisional district boards, composed of all the original members of the boards supplemented by others appointed by the chief executive. (Under the British administration, the Governor had refrained from appointing any member.)

Later in early 1999 a bill was passed in the Legislative Council providing mainly for the establishment, composition and functions of the District Councils, which would replace the Provisional District Boards; the 27 ex officio seats of Rural Committees, abolished by the colonial authorities, were reinstated. The government rejected any public survey or referendum on the issue, saying that it had been studying the issue since 1997, and had received 98 favourable submissions; the self-proclaimed pro-democracy camp dubbed the move "a setback to the pace of democracy" because it was a throwback to the colonial era.[4]

In 2010, the government proposed that five legislators be added to district council functional constituencies, and be elected by proportional representation of elected DC members.[5] In a politically controversial deal between the Democratic Party and the Beijing government, this was changed to allow the five seats to be elected by those members of the general electorate who did not otherwise have a functional constituency vote.

Operation[edit]

Functions[edit]

The councils are mandated to advise the Government on the following:

  • matters affecting the well-being of people in the District;
  • the provision and use of public facilities and services within the District;
  • the adequacy and priorities of Government programmes for the District;
  • the use of public funds allocated to the District for local public works and community activities; and

District councils also undertake the following within the respective districts with its available funds allocated by the government:

  • environmental improvements;
  • the promotion of recreational and cultural activities; and
  • community activities

Constituencies[edit]

There were a total of 534 district council members in the third term (2008–11), of which –

Starting from the fourth District Council Election, the total number of district council members has reduced from 534 to 507, of which –

  • 412 are returned by direct election
  • 27 are ex officio members (當然議員) (Rural Committee Chairmen in the New Territories), and
  • 68 are appointed members by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

Councils[edit]

Map of district councils

There is a district council for each of the following eighteen districts; the number in parentheses corresponds to the number shown on the map at the right.

Composition[edit]

Term of office Chairmen Non-officials Officials Overall
Elected members Appointed members Ex-officio members
(rural committee chairmen)
Urban council members
1982–85
District board
(1.4.82 - 31.3.85)
District officers 132 134 27 30 167 490
1985–88
District board
(1.4.85 - 31.3.88)
Elected from among DB members 237 132 27 30 426
1988–91
District board
(1.4.88 - 31.3.91)
Elected from among DB members 264 141 27 30 462
1991–94
District board
(1.4.91 - 30.9.94)
Elected from among DB members 274 140 27 441
1994–97
District board
(1.10.94 - 30.6.97)
Elected from among DB members 346 27 373
1997–99 Provisional
district board
(1.7.97 - 31.12.99)
Elected from among PDB members 469 469
2000–03
District council
(1.1.00 - 31.12.03)
Elected from among DC members 390 102 27 519
2004–07
District council
(1.1.04 - 31.12.07)
Elected from among DC members 400 102 27 529
2008–11
District council
(1.1.08 - 31.12.11)
Elected from among DC members 405 102 27 534
2012–15
District council
(1.1.12 - 31.12.15)
Elected from among DC members 412 68 27 507
2016–19
District council
(1.1.16 - 31.12.19)
Elected from among DC members 431 27 458
2020–23
District council
(1.1.20 - 31.12.23)
Elected from among DC members 452 27 479

Source: Review of the Roles, Functions and Composition

Political make-up of the councils[edit]

As of 4 November 2019:

Council/
Party
CW WC E S YTM SSP KC WTS KT TW TM YL N TP SK ST KWT I TOTAL
DAB 5 4 11 2 8 5 8 7 10 4 8 6 7 5 8 7 8 3 116
FTU 6 2 2 1 4 4 3 1 3 1 27
BPA/KWND 4 3 5 1 1 3 1 3 21
NPP 1 2 2 7 1 13
Liberal 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 8
Roundtable 2 2 1 2 7
NTAS 1 1 2
Civil Force 2 2
FLU 1 1
FPHE 1 1
Ind & others 4 6 6 8 4 1 6 6 15 7 5 23 8 7 5 3 4 11 129
Pro-Beijing 10 11 25 12 16 11 20 16 28 15 22 36 18 15 16 20 20 16 327
Democratic 5 2 3 1 2 2 3 3 1 4 2 2 3 4 37
ND 1 2 3 6 1 13
ADPL 7 2 3 12
Civic 4 1 1 1 2 2 1 12
Labour 1 1 1 3
NWSC 2 2
CGPLTKO 2 2
DA 1 1
Ind & others 2 3 2 1 1 1 4 4 2 2 1 9 3 1 36
Pro-democrats 5 2 10 5 3 11 3 9 8 4 8 5 4 5 9 16 9 2 118
KEC 1 1
CNU/STCN 1 1
Ind & others 1 1 2 4
Localists 1 1 1 3 6
Others 1 1 4 1 7
Vacant
Councillors 15 13 35 17 19 23 24 25 37 20 30 41 22 21 29 39 30 18 458

Terms of office[edit]

Each term of the District Council lasts for four years; the first term began on 1 January 2000.

Under the district councillor appointment system, 102 district councillors out of 534 are picked by the chief executive; the remainder are democratically elected by voters in each district. In June 2010, the government announced it would make proposals on whether to scrap the system in the next Legco year, from October 2010.[6]

Independence[edit]

The party affiliations and politics in the Legislative Council can be echoed in the district councils, who have sometimes been accused of slavishly supporting the government. Prof. Li Pang-kwong, of Lingnan University, says that the problematic framework of the councils, being under the Home Affairs Bureau, has led them to work too closely with government, he cites the example of the 'copy and paste' Queen's Pier motions passed by thirteen councils to support government decisions as a rubber-stamp, and a clear sign that councils lacked independence. Dr Li recalled a similar government 'consultation' on universal suffrage in 2007, in which two-thirds of the councils passed a vote in support of its position. After it was revealed that the government was behind the concerted district councils' motions in 2008 supporting the relocation of Queen's Pier, Albert Ho condemned the government of tampering with district councils to "create public opinion", and for turning district officers into propagandists.[7]

Elections[edit]

District council elections, 1999[edit]

e • d Summary of the 28 November 1999 District Councils of Hong Kong election results
Political Affiliation Popular vote % Standing Elected ±
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong 190,792 23.53 Increase11.82 176 83 Increase27
Hong Kong Progressive Alliance 23,168 2.86 Decrease1.33 25 16 Decrease1
Liberal Party 27,718 3.42 Decrease3.98 34 15 Decrease3
Civil Force 19,633 2.42 Increase0.65 14 11 Increase2
Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions 1,074 0.13 - 1 1 Increase1
New Territories Heung Yee Kuk 942 0.12 - 1 1 Steady0
Hong Kong Chinese Reform Association - - - 1 1 Steady0
Independent and others 177,774 21.92 - 180 104 Decrease4
Total for pro-Beijing camp 443,441 54.69 - 436 232 Increase22
Democratic Party 201,461 24.85 Increase1.69 173 86 Increase13
Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood 38,119 4.70 Decrease2.25 32 19 Increase1
123 Democratic Alliance 11,396 1.41 Decrease0.60 10 6 Steady0
Frontier 9,388 1.16 - 9 4 Increase1
Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre 3,295 0.41 - 3 2 Steady0
Citizens Party 2,072 0.26 - 1 1 Steady0
Hong Kong Democratic Foundation 1,392 0.17 Decrease0.42 1 1 Steady0
Independent democrats 58,706 7.24 - 54 38 Increase7
Total for pro-democracy camp 325,829 40.18 - 283 157 Increase22
Independent and others 41,593 5.13 - 79 1 Steady0
Total (turnout 35.82%) 810,863 100.0 - 798 390 Increase44

Note1: The total seats of the District Councils are 519 including 27 ex-officio members (Rural Committee Chairmen in the New Territories), and 102 members appointed members by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
Note2: Councilor Lau Kong-wah who ran under both DAB and Civil Force banners is counted as a DAB member in this chart.

In 1999, Tung Chee Hwa appointed 100 members to the district councils; these included 41 from various political parties, namely the Liberal Party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), and the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance. No democrats were appointed.[8]

District council elections, 2003[edit]

e • d Summary of the 23 November 2003 District Councils of Hong Kong election results
Political Affiliation Popular vote % Standing Elected ±
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong 241,202 22.94 Decrease0.59 200 62 Decrease21
Civil Force 25,720 2.45 Increase0.02 22 17 Increase3
Liberal Party 29,108 2.77 Decrease0.65 27 14 Increase1
Hong Kong Progressive Alliance 29,091 2.77 Decrease0.05 23 13 Decrease5
Wan Chai Community Union 1,189 0.11 - 1 1 -
Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions 2,766 0.26 Increase0.13 3 0 -
New Youth Forum 1,314 0.12 - 2 0 -
New Century Forum 833 0.08 - 1 0 -
Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions - - - 1 1 -
Independent and others 156,827 14.92 - 136 92 Decrease6
Total for pro-Beijing camp 489,889 46.48 Decrease0.97 417 201 Decrease28
Democratic Party 223,675 21.27 Decrease3.57 120 95 Increase17
Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood 53,264 5.07 Increase0.36 37 25 Increase4
Frontier 25,349 2.41 Increase1.25 14 6 Increase1
Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre 14,146 1.35 Increase0.94 5 4 Increase1
Yuen Long Tin Shui Wai Democratic Alliance 8,418 0.80 - 6 4 Increase2
Civic Act-up 5,170 0.49 - 5 3 Increase3
Central and Western Democratic Power 5,748 0.55 - 4 2 -
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions 4,032 0.38 - 3 2 Increase2
Yuen Long Democratic Alliance 1,489 0.14 - 1 1 -
7.1 People Pile 2,888 0.27 - 3 0 -
April Fifth Action 1,149 0.11 - 1 0 -
Citizens Party 361 0.03 Decrease0.22 1 0 Decrease1
Independent democrats 130,453 12.41 - 87 56 Increase8
Total for pro-democracy camp 477,596 45.54 Increase10.29 288 198 Increase38
Independent and others 83,939 7.98 - 132 1 -
Total (turnout 44.10%) 1,051,424 100.0 - 837 400 Increase10


In 2003, Tung appointed 21 political party appointees to the district councils to dilute the influence of the pan-democrats as follows:[9]

  • eight members of the Liberal Party
  • six members of the DAB
  • six members from the Progressive Alliance
  • one from the New Century Forum

Professor of politics and sociology at Lingnan University, Dr. Li Pang-kwong said "As in the past, most of the appointees were pro-government or persons without a clear political stance... ensur[ing] that no district council is in the hands of the democrats."[8]

A spokesman for the democrats said the appointees "will have an unfair advantage in that they are getting financial support from the government which will help them run for office in future elections."[8]

District council elections, 2007[edit]

e • d Summary of the 18 November 2007 district councils of Hong Kong election results
Political Affiliation Popular vote % Standing Elected ±
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong 292,916 25.73 Increase2.79 178[i] 115 Increase40
Civil Force 30,880 2.71 Increase0.27 20 18 Increase3
Liberal Party 50,026 4.39 Increase1.63 55 14 Decrease3
Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions 4,208 0.37 Increase0.11 3[i] 1 Increase1
Tseung Kwan O Residents' Association 1,922 0.17 - 1 1 -
Tin Shui Wai Women Association 1,457 0.13 - 1 1 -
Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions 1,339 0.12 Increase0.12 1 1 Steady0
New Territories General Chamber of Commerce 818 0.07 - 1 0 -
New Century Forum 543 0.05 Decrease0.03 1 0 Steady0
Hong Kong Civic Association 390 0.03 - 5 0 -
Independents 226,645 19.91 - 161 118
Total for pro-Beijing camp 614,621 53.98 Increase7.38 430 273 Increase61
Democratic Party 175,054 15.38 Decrease5.90 110 59 Decrease21
Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood 52,386 4.60 Decrease0.46 37 17 Decrease7
Civic Party 48,837 4.29 - 41 8 Increase2
League of Social Democrats 28,601 2.51 - 29 6 Steady0
Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre 12,565 1.10 Decrease0.24 5 4 Steady0
Frontier 18,203 1.60 Decrease0.81 15 3 Decrease3
Yuen Long Tin Shui Wai Democratic Alliance 9,530 0.84 Increase0.04 11 1 Decrease4
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions 2,273 0.20 Decrease0.18 2 0 Decrease2
Civic Act-up 991 0.09 Decrease0.40 2 0 Decrease2
Individuals 60,510 5.31 - 44 10 -
Total for Democratic Coalition for DC Election 409,573 35.97 - 296 108 -
Independent democrats and others 36,208 3.18 - 39 19 -
Total for pan-democracy camp 445,781 39.15 Decrease5.51 335 127 Decrease56
Independent and others 78,133 6.86 Decrease2.21 142 5 -
Total (turnout 38.83%) 1,138,358 100.0 - 907 405[ii] Increase5
  1. ^ a b Candidates ran under both DAB and FTU banners were all counted as DAB in this chart.
  2. ^ The total seats of the district councils are 534 including 27 ex-officio members (rural committee chairmen in the New Territories), and 102 members appointed members by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

In December 2007, Donald Tsang named 27 government-appointed council members.[9]

  • 13 members of the Liberal Party
  • 11 members of the DAB
  • three members from the Federation of Trade Unions

Tsang was criticised for not appointing a single member of the pan-democrats in either 2003 or 2007.[9]

District council elections, 2011[edit]

e • d Summary of the 6 November 2011 District Councils of Hong Kong election results
Political Affiliation Popular vote % Standing Elected ±
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong 282,119 23.89 Decrease1.84 182 136 Increase16
Civil Force 35,221 2.98 Increase0.27 20 15 Decrease3
Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions 36,646 3.10 Increase2.73 20 11 Increase7
Liberal Party 23,408 1.98 Decrease2.41 24 9 Increase3
New People's Party 15,568 1.32 - 12 4 Increase3
New Territories Association of Societies 2,187 0.19 - 2 2 Increase1
Economic Synergy 2,404 0.20 - 3 1 Increase1
Fu Cheong Estate Residents Association 2,235 0.19 - 1 1 Increase1
Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions 1,859 0.16 Increase0.04 2 1 Steady0
Pro-Beijing Independents 252,720 21.40 - 172 121 Decrease3
Total for pro-Beijing camp 654,368 55.42 Increase1.77 438 301 Increase23
Democratic Party 205,716 17.42 Increase2.04 132 47 Decrease3
Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood 45,453 3.85 Decrease0.75 26 15 Decrease2
Neo Democrats 25,437 2.15 - 10 8 Steady0
Civic Party 47,603 4.03 Decrease0.26 41 7 Decrease5
Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre 14,364 1.22 Increase0.11 6 5 Increase2
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions 4,044 0.34 Increase0.14 3 0 Steady0
Power for Democracy 3,837 0.32 - 4 0 Steady0
Individuals 23,007 1.95 Decrease2.33 14 6 Decrease1
Total for Democratic Coalition for DC Election 369,461 31.29 Decrease3.60 236 88 Decrease9
People Power 23,465 1.99 - 62 1 Decrease1
League of Social Democrats 21,833 1.85 Decrease0.66 28 0 Decrease5
Land Justice League 3,025 0.26 - 4 0 Steady0
Citizens' Radio 1,718 0.15 - 2 0 Steady0
Independent democrats and others 45,015 3.81 - 37 14 Decrease3
Total for pan-democracy camp 464,512 39.34 Increase0.18 369 103 Decrease16
Independent and others 61,930 5.24 Decrease1.96 108 8 Increase2
Total vaild votes 1,180,809 100.0 - 915 412 Increase7
Invaild votes 21,497
Total (turnout 41.49%) 1,202,544


After the election, Donald Tsang appointed 68 members, non of them were from the pan-democrats camp.

District council elections, 2015[edit]

e • d Summary of the 22 November 2015 District Councils of Hong Kong election results
Political Affiliation Popular vote % % ± Standing Elected ±
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong 309,262 21.39 Decrease2.50 171 119 Steady0
Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions 88,292 6.11 Increase3.01 48 27 Decrease2
New People's Party 75,793 5.24 Increase0.94 42 26 Decrease1
Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong 27,452 1.90 - 16 10 Decrease4
Liberal Party 25,157 1.74 Decrease0.24 20 9 Decrease1
Kowloon West New Dynamic 11,647 0.81 - 5 3 Decrease1
New Territories Association of Societies 2,356 0.16 Decrease0.03 2 2 Steady0
Federation of Public Housing Estates 3,457 0.24 - 1 1 Increase1
Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions 3,168 0.22 Increase0.06 2 1 Steady0
New Century Forum 1,717 0.12 - 1 0 Decrease1
Pro-Beijing Independents 241,088 16.68 - 178 100
Total for pro-Beijing camp 788,389 54.61 Decrease0.81 486 298 Decrease6
Democratic Party 196,068 13.56 Decrease3.86 95 43 Increase1
Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood 55,275 3.82 Decrease0.03 26 18 Increase2
Neo Democrats 42,148 2.92 Increase0.77 16 15 Increase8
Civic Party 52,346 3.62 Decrease0.41 25 10 Increase3
Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre 16,105 1.11 Decrease0.11 6 5 Steady0
Labour Party 23,029 1.59 - 12 3 Increase2
Power for Democracy 3,938 0.27 Decrease0.05 1 1 Steady0
Sha Tin Community Network 3,718 0.26 - 2 1 Increase1
League of Social Democrats 6,526 0.45 Decrease1.40 5 0 Steady0
Individuals 52,612 3.64 - 38 9
Total for Democratic Coalition for DC Election 451,765 31.25 Decrease0.04 226 105 Increase21
Youngspiration 12,520 0.87 - 9 1 Increase1
Democratic Alliance 5,313 0.37 - 4 1 Steady0
Kowloon East Community 3,922 0.27 - 3 1 Increase1
The Frontier 2,974 0.21 - 1 1 Steady0
People Power 11,503 0.80 Decrease1.19 9 0 Steady0
Tuen Mun Community 5,196 0.36 - 4 0 Steady0
Civic Passion 3,006 0.21 - 6 0 Steady0
Tsz Wan Shan Constructive Power 3,633 0.25 - 2 0 Steady0
North of the Rings 1,710 0.12 - 1 0 Steady0
Land Justice League 1,482 0.10 Decrease0.16 1 0 Steady0
Tsuen Wan Dynamic for the People 1,500 0.10 - 1 0 Steady0
Independent democrats and others 77,767 5.38 - 66 17
Total for pro-democracy camp 581,058 40.20 Increase1.00 335 126 Increase25
Independent and others 75,079 5.19 Decrease0.19 114 7 Increase4
Total valid votes 1,445,526 100.0 - 935 431 Increase19
Invalid votes 21,703
Total (turnout 47.01%) 1,467,229


After this election, this election would abolish the appointed members of the Hong Kong district councils.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Scott, Ian (1989). Political Change and the Crisis of Legitimacy in Hong Kong. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0824812697., from p140
  2. ^ District Administration Hong Kong Government
  3. ^ Cheung,Gary (14 November 2009), "Universal suffrage an elusive goal", South China Morning Post
  4. ^ Carmen Cheung, "Referendum ruled out on seats issue" Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Standard, 20 January 1999
  5. ^ Lee, Diana, (15 April 2010). 'Grab this golden chance' Archived 29 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Standard
  6. ^ Lau takes on the radicals Archived 29 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Standard, 28 June 2010, Phila Siu and Colleen Lee
  7. ^ Olga Wong & Joyce Ng, (24 June 2008). "'Rubber stamp' council lashed over pier vote". South China Morning Post. pp. Pg A3.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  8. ^ a b c Michael Ng, Tung picks 'dilute' bodies Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Standard, 29 December 2003
  9. ^ a b c Frank Ching, "Tsang grooms his kind of political talent", Pg A12, South China Morning Post, 24 June 2008

External links[edit]