Rethinking the Process of Political Reform in Hong Kong

9 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2015 Last revised: 24 Sep 2015

See all articles by Simon N. M. Young

Simon N. M. Young

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 2, 2015


In a historic vote on 18 June 2015, the Hong Kong government failed to obtain the support of two-third of all 70 Legislative Council (LegCo) members for its proposal on universal suffrage of the chief executive. Many reasons have been given for why the reform efforts failed. Little attention, however, has been paid to how the process of reform itself may have contributed to the demise of the reform enterprise. It is argued that the nature and significance of the reform exercise deserved a more participatory process than the one adopted, ie one that involved more meaningful contributions from the public at important moments in the process. Receiving meaningful contributions at important moments means that the public is consulted initially not only on reform issues but also on draft reform proposals before they are finalised. It also means that the relevant reform bodies should include membership from independent individuals, whether as experts or representatives of the public. The Hong Kong government should also have consulted and secured agreement with legislators on the process of reform before commencing the reform exercise. If the stakeholders agreed at the outset that the process to be followed would be fair and transparent, it would be more likely that they would accept the outcome from that process.

Keywords: Hong Kong, political reform, universal suffrage, constitutional change, reform process

JEL Classification: D72, K10

Suggested Citation

Young, Simon N. M., Rethinking the Process of Political Reform in Hong Kong (September 2, 2015). (2015) 45 Hong Kong Law Journal 381-388, University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2015/036, Available at SSRN:

Simon N. M. Young (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong


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