MRI Forum 7

"Political Participation in Hong Kong:
Some Recent Trends and Prospects"

by Professor Lam Wai-man, The University of Macau


Summary of the Presentation

Since 1997, Hong Kong has undergone significant transformation in its political culture and patterns of political participation. Although renowned for its political apathy and consensus capitalism, the mass movements of Hong Kong people on July 1st of 2003 and 2004, and other examples of collective mobilisation against the Tung Chee-hwa government, have undoubtedly debunked the myths. With the debut of several political activists in the Legislative Council, political participation in Hong Kong seems to regain its ground.

In view of the crises, the Hong Kong SAR government has taken steps to absorb politics by economic and citizenship building projects. Nonetheless, the political participation and the political absorption strategies are nothing new. While political participation has roots that date back to World War II, parallel examples of de-politicisation were to be seen during the British colonial rule of Hong Kong. In the forthcoming seminar, Dr. Lam Wai-man will discuss recent trends of political culture and political participation in Hong Kong and examine their origin within the historical context.

Profile of the Speaker

Dr. Lam Wai-man received her Ph. D. from the University of Hong Kong in 2001. She is currently Assistant Professor at the University of Macau. Being a long-term analyst of Hong Kong politics, she has published on issues of political culture, political participation, democratisation, and civil society.

Her new book entitled Understanding the Political Culture of Hong Kong: the Paradox of Activism and Depoliticization (N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe) has just come out in 2004. The book challenges the conventional understanding of Hong Kong‚s political culture as one of political apathy and indifference. It takes a broad historical look at political participation and provides a new understanding of Hong Kong‚s political culture that embodies a combination of political activity and a culture of de-politicisation.