The Instigator
Avamys
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
brian_eggleston
Pro (for)
Winning
4 Points

Universal Suffrage in Hong Kong

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
brian_eggleston
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/18/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,869 times Debate No: 31240
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (10)
Votes (1)

 

Avamys

Con

As Con, I will be debating that Hong Kong should not go for universal suffrage in the Legislative Council election.

Rules:
No swearing or calling names
First round is for acceptance only
Rebuttals and arguments allowed at all times, but there should be no new arguments in the last round
No forfeiting!!!
First round is for acceptance only.
brian_eggleston

Pro

I would like to thank Avamys for this debate challenge which I duly accept.

Debate Round No. 1
Avamys

Con

I thank my opponent for agreeing to this debate. Here are my arguments:

1. Hong Kong would become a welfare state
I quote from Ronnie Chan, chairman of the Hang Lung Group. " ... the under-educated, and those who did not pay tax would elect candidates who stood for more social welfare spending, which would turn Hong Kong into a "welfare state" ... About 1.1 million of the people have only kindergarten or no education level at all. About 82 per cent of the population does not pay tax, and 51 per cent of the people receive housing subsidies from the government. If we have a 100-per-cent directly elected LegCo (Legislative Council), only social welfare- oriented candidates will be elected. Hong Kong is a business city and we do not want to end up being a social welfare state.'
Voters vote for candidates that fight for their benefit, which includes more welfare. The main functions of Legislative Council are to "enact laws; examine and approve budgets, taxation and public expenditure". They can also propose bills. So, naturally, if they want to keep their seat in the next election, they will only pass bills that increase welfare to please the voters. This is not good for long-term development. Just look at Greece. The people vote for candidates which go against cutting the budget, and now they are in serious debt. We won"t want Hong Kong to become like that, right?
Secondly, Hong Kong is a business city. If the government wants to increase welfare, they have to increase the tax, which voters do not like. So, the only thing the can increase is the tax on corporations. That increase the cost of running a company, so the company will either fire workers, lower their salary or increase the price, which in return doesn"t benefit us, the voters and the customers.

2. I quote from the Second Report of the Constitutional Development Task Force, conducted by the HKSAR Government.
"There are some concerns that Hong Kong has a narrow tax base, and that only 39% of the working population are paying salaries tax. The worry is that if universal suffrage were implemented hastily, or if functional constituencies were abolished, Hong Kong might become a welfare state. In turn, this might affect the investment and economic environment of Hong Kong. There are views that functional constituencies and the existing electoral methods should be maintained in order to facilitate the development of the capitalist economy"to preserve the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, the previous capitalist system and way of life should remain unchanged. Constitutional development should not proceed in a direction which leads to the emergence of populism or a welfare state, thus affecting the operation of the capitalist system."
If there is universal suffrage in the Legislative Council election, again, as mentioned in my first point, only candidates who strive for more benefits will get elected. The voters will only elect candidates that do what they want, so, populism will emerge, and that harms the long-term development of Hong Kong, as it is only the wishes of the people, not what benefits the city.

References:
"Tycoon warns on protests," The Standard, 29 April 2004.
HKSAR Government, The Second Report of the Constitutional Development Task Force: Issues of
Principle in the Basic Law Relating to Constitutional Development [report on-line] (April 2004, accessed 8 August 2004); available from http://www.info.gov.hk...; Internet.
brian_eggleston

Pro

I would like to thank Avamys for proposing this very interesting debate.

To begin, we must accept the premise that "All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development." This is enshrined in international law by the United Nations [1] and there can be no legitimate justification for any regime to deprive its citizens of their fundamental human right to choose their own leaders, yet my opponent has valiantly attempted to do so in the case of Hong Kong.

I must admit, I was very surprised to read that "about 1.1 million of the people have only kindergarten or no education level at all. About 82 per cent of the population does not pay tax, and 51 per cent of the people receive housing subsidies from the (Hong Kong) government."

Personally, I have never seen much evidence of social deprivation in Hong Kong, although I did once see some Filipino domestic workers camping in a pedestrian underpass near the Star Ferry pier, which was quite bizarre!

However, my opponent insists that over four fifths of the population don't pay tax. This would suggest either mass unemployment or wholesale tax evasion.

Therefore, I decided to research my opponent's claims using alternative sources and discovered that unemployment is below 5% [2], very low by international standards, while literacy is 93.5% [3], not bad for a city where 1.1 million of 7.1 million inhabitants have no education beyond kindergarten!

Regarding tax, Hong Kong has one of the lowest rates of corporate and salary taxes in the world. There is a flat corporate tax while there are four marginal tax brackets on income of 2%, 7%, 12% and 17%. Furthermore, in 2011 Hong Kong taxpayers actually received a 75% tax rebate, so there seems little incentive for Hong Kongers to risk prosecution by evading taxes. {4,5}

Meanwhile, with a per capita GDP of US$50,700 people in Hong Kong are among the richest in the world, making more money per person on average than Americans, Japanese, Germans or Britons. To put their wealth in perspective, the per capita GDP of mainland China is only US$9,100. [6]

So we can see that the average person in Hong Kong earns a very good salary and pays very little tax and, therefore, has a high disposable income. Property is expensive in Hong Kong, true, but it is still less expensive than London [7] and most people in Hong Kong are easily able to purchase private health insurance, while the Hong Kong government already provides limited welfare for children and the elderly.

There seems, therefore, little need for a welfare state in Hong Kong - only the minority of people at the margins of society would benefit from a welfare state whereas the majority of citizens have no need for state welfare and would not, therefore, vote for a politician that argued that taxes should increase to pay for it.

In conclusion, Hong Kong is an extremely prosperous city and is so successful because the people of Hong Kong are industrious and self-reliant - that is the reason that they are in such a healthy financial position compared to countries like Greece who are on their knees due to a relative lack of work ethic of their population.

Another city state in South East Asia, Singapore, also has a productive workforce. The average Singaporean earns US$60,900 per year and, as such, are among the very few in the world with a higher per capita GDP than Hong Kong. However, Singapore is a parliamentary republic with a democratically elected government.

There is no reason for the people of Singapore to vote for politicians promoting the introduction of a welfare state any more than there is any reason for the people of Hong Kong to, that is if they had the opportunity, which they don't, but according to international law, should.

Thank you.

[1] http://www.un.org...
[2] http://www.indexmundi.com...
[3} https://www.cia.gov...
[4] http://www.guidemehongkong.com...
[5] http://www.china-briefing.com...
[6] https://www.cia.gov...
[7] http://www.globalpropertyguide.com...
Debate Round No. 2
Avamys

Con

Here are my rebuttals:

"There seems, therefore, little need for a welfare state in Hong Kong - only the minority of people at the margins of society would benefit from a welfare state whereas the majority of citizens have no need for state welfare and would not, therefore, vote for a politician that argued that taxes should increase to pay for it."

Not only the minority benefits from a welfare state. Everyone does. When taxes are decreased, everyone pays less; when healthcare is increased, everyone gets more benefits. Although there might seem to be no need for a welfare state, that will not stop people from wanting one, as everyone welcomes policies that benefit them. Taxes will actually increase, as the tax rebate percentage will become lower, the money used for welfare.

"Regarding tax, Hong Kong has one of the lowest rates of corporate and salary taxes in the world."
Hong Kong has very low tax, but that does not mean prices of products will not increase because of a slightly higher tax rate. It"s all simple math. The tax increases by ten dollars; the price increases by ten or even more. The cost of production increases by one dollar; the price increases by one dollar or more. In the end, the consumers/customers still suffer.

"So we can see that the average person in Hong Kong earns a very good salary and pays very little tax and, therefore, has a high disposable income. Property is expensive in Hong Kong, true, but it is still less expensive than London""
No, the average person in Hong Kong does not earn a very good salary. The average annual income in Hong Kong is 530,530 HKD, which is 66,316 USD. However, the average annual income in New York, another metropolis, is 87,026 USD! In New Jersey, it is 76,962 USD; and in Washington State, 77,584 USD. The average annual salaries in Rhode Island, Nevada, Utah, California, Colorado, Georgia etc are all higher than that in Hong Kong! (Refer to: www.averagesalarysurvey.com)

The reason why Hong Kong has a high average salary is because of a few billionaires, such as Li Ka Shing, the 8th richest person in the world according to Forbes, having a net worth of US 31 billion, the world's largest operator of container terminals and the world's largest health and beauty retailer.

Li Shao Ki, another billionaire, has a net worth of US 17 billion, is ranked the 24th, and the Kwok family ranked the 26th .

However, not many billionaires live in the mentioned places that are as rich as Li, and considering that Hong Kong has a smaller population than a state in the US despite having a dense population, the average salary is pulled up.
(Refer to: http://www.forbes.com...)

Secondly, I would like you to check out this site: http://www.thepovertyline.net...
You will find that, to be under the poverty line in Hong Kong is easier than in the US, and if you click into the respective "countries" under the Developed Countries tab, you will find that things are cheaper in the US than in Hong Kong.

I would like to note that my opponent has not rebutted my point about a universal suffrage election in the LegCo leading to the emergence of populism, and that although there might not be need for Hong Kong to be a welfare state, it does not mean the people will not want more welfare.

I would like to thank my opponent for bringing up new points and I look forward to seeing his rebuttals.
brian_eggleston

Pro

I would like to respond to my opponent's previous comments as follows:

He wrote "Although there might seem to be no need for a welfare state, that will not stop people from wanting one, as everyone welcomes policies that benefit them. Taxes will actually increase, as the tax rebate percentage will become lower, the money used for welfare."

This would be a matter for political debate in a democracy. For example, a socialist candidate might argue that a developed, civilized society should make health care provisions for all citizens free at the point of use according to need, not the ability to pay, and he might also add that although taxes would rise in order to pay for a nationalised health service, citizens would no longer need to purchase private health insurance.

On the other hand, a capitalist candidate might argue that consumers should decide how best to spend their own money, not the government, and that those people who cannot afford private health insurance should rely on their families or charities for support in a medical crisis.

I would suspect that the Hong Kong electorate would overwhelmingly vote for capitalist candidates ahead of socialist candidates but, of course, there is a possibility that I could be wrong. Perhaps the people of Hong Kong are unlike their cousins in Singapore and value social justice more than personal wealth and would vote in a socialist regime.

It would be very surprising if that happened but that would be democracy in action: the will of the majority of people should prevail over the vested interests of the financially privileged few.

Moving on, my opponent wrote:

"Hong Kong has very low tax, but that does not mean prices of products will not increase because of a slightly higher tax rate. It's all simple math. The tax increases by ten dollars; the price increases by ten or even more."

This is, indeed, true. If extra taxes are levied upon corporations, the cost will be passed on to the customer. This would also be bad news for Hong Kong companies who export their goods and services as it puts them at a competitive disadvantage, although we should remember that Hong Kong companies are already at a huge disadvantage compared to their rivals in mainland China where labour costs are a fraction of those in Hong Kong. However, this is something politicians and political commentators need to discuss with voters so that they can decide which way to vote.

Continuing, my opponent wrote: "The reason why Hong Kong has a high average salary is because of a few billionaires..."

This is true of all top cities worldwide: New York, London, Paris, Moscow and Los Angeles all have more than their fair share of tycoons, oligarchs and plutocrats; Hong Kong is far from unique in that respect. The fact remains that Hong Kong is one of the richest states in the world whose inhabitants are some of those most prosperous on the planet. This negates the call from the general public for welfare services for the many to be funded by a relatively wealthy few.

Moving on again my opponent wrote: "You will find that, to be under the poverty line in Hong Kong is easier than in the US, and if you click into the respective "countries" under the Developed Countries tab, you will find that things are cheaper in the US than in Hong Kong."

This statement seems to be self-contradictory but, in any case, it does seem that food is cheaper in the US than Hong Kong, although I have to say that food here in London, like property prices, the cost of fuel and public transport and other major outgoings is higher than either Hong Kong or the US: it is all relative to average income. Furthermore, the exchange rates distort the real cost of living. That said, living in poverty is not easy anywhere, but the opportunities to succeed in Hong Kong are there for those who want to take them, which is not true in many parts of the US or the UK. That's why there is more of a demand for welfare services in Europe and America than there is in Hong Kong or Singapore.

Finally, regarding popularise in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, I would suggest that it would be healthy for the members voted in by the Council to be popular with the citizens, enacting popular policies that the people approve of. Surely this is better than having some forelock-tugging technocrat parachuted into power by his political masters in Beijing, accountable not to the citizens but, instead, to his bosses on the unelected Chinese State Council?

In the final analysis, the people must be allowed to decide their own fates and must be able to hold their leaders to account through the ballot box.

Hong Kong, of course, has no history of democratic rule: prior to its current status as an autonomous area of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong was a British territorial possession, governed from London. It is, perhaps, for this reason, together with the buoyant economy, that there is no popular clamour for freedom from the people, but that does not mean that they should not be entitled to be represented by leaders of their own choosing.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
Avamys

Con

"This would be a matter for political debate in a democracy. For example, a socialist candidate might argue that a developed, civilized society should make health care provisions for all citizens free at the point of use according to need, not the ability to pay, and he might also add that although taxes would rise in order to pay for a nationalised health service, citizens would no longer need to purchase private health insurance."
Actually, Hong Kong has medical aid too, that"s why staying in a public hospital is so much cheaper. Also, most of Hong Kong doesn"t pay tax, so if the health insurance increases, taxes have to increase, and ultimately the people who pay tax have to suffer. But of course, LegCo members won"t allow it to happen as no one wants to pay more tax and they need to secure votes, so the Government will end up giving out more money and receiving less as LegCo members will call for tax cuts.

"On the other hand, a capitalist candidate might argue that consumers should decide how best to spend their own money, not the government, and that those people who cannot afford private health insurance should rely on their families or charities for support in a medical crisis."
This will not happen, as everyone wants a free lunch. All citizens would fight for no tax and huge welfare.

"I would suspect that the Hong Kong electorate would overwhelmingly vote for capitalist candidates ahead of socialist candidates but, of course, there is a possibility that I could be wrong. Perhaps the people of Hong Kong are unlike their cousins in Singapore and value social justice more than personal wealth and would vote in a socialist regime."
Hong Kong people, just like all other people, are greedy. They vote for candidates that benefit them, financially or otherwise. They vote for people who share their views and beliefs, which may not be the best for the city"s development.
Imagine everyone fighting for no tax and huge welfare. What would happen? Due to populism, Hong Kong would become bankrupt.

"This statement seems to be self-contradictory but, in any case, it does seem that food is cheaper in the US than Hong Kong, although I have to say that food here in London, like property prices, the cost of fuel and public transport and other major outgoings is higher than either Hong Kong or the US: it is all relative to average income. Furthermore, the exchange rates distort the real cost of living. That said, living in poverty is not easy anywhere, but the opportunities to succeed in Hong Kong are there for those who want to take them, which is not true in many parts of the US or the UK. That's why there is more of a demand for welfare services in Europe and America than there is in Hong Kong or Singapore."
I do not understand why my opponent finds my statement self-contradictory. It is easier to be under the poverty line in HK than in US because the things are more expensive. Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, the need for a welfare state does not affect the greed of people. No one will not want things that benefit them.

"Finally, regarding popularise in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, I would suggest that it would be healthy for the members voted in by the Council to be popular with the citizens, enacting popular policies that the people approve of. Surely this is better than having some forelock-tugging technocrat parachuted into power by his political masters in Beijing, accountable not to the citizens but, instead, to his bosses on the unelected Chinese State Council?"
Well, firstly, I would like to state that it is not healthy. Sure, it might benefit citizens temporarily, but when the city suffers because of badly implemented policies due to populism, the people are the ones who will suffer! Not only people in Hong Kong, but people who trade with HK companies all over the world! Yes, the LegCo would have the people"s support, but will they have the same support when HK goes bankrupt or its economy goes back to its level in 2003?

""but that does not mean that they should not be entitled to be represented by leaders of their own choosing."
I would like to remind my opponent that I am only arguing against universal suffrage in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. I did not say the Chief Executive could not be elected in that way. The Chief Executive is the highest ranking official in Hong Kong, and together with an un-universal suffrage elected LegCo, they could balance the benefit of the people and the city.

I would like to thank my opponent for bringing new ideas into this debate.
brian_eggleston

Pro

I will make this brief as I am running up against the deadline.

My opponent's argument in a nutshell is that, if democracy was introduced to Hong Kong, the majority of people would benefit from the creation of a full welfare state and would vote for politicians promising such a measure.

Firstly, I have shown that it is unlikely that the prosperous, industrious people of Hong Kong would, en masse, give up their well-paid jobs to live a life relying on state benefits.

Secondly, I have demonstrated that politicians opposing a welfare state would highlight the costs of such a scheme, not only to individual taxpayers, but to the wider economy, and we mustn't assume that the electorate would be incapable of understanding these arguments.

My final argument is that, in a democracy, the will of the majority should prevail over the vested interests of a few. That means that even if a pro-welfare state government were elected, by poorer people who would benefit directly and also by richer people who wanted to live in a fairer society, the people would benefit from enhanced public services but there might be a price to pay in terms of higher taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations, which may have a wider long-term impact on competitiveness. If the electorate considered any such negative impact too high a price to pay, they could vote for an alternative government at the following election which might dismantle or scale back the welfare state according to the voters' wishes.

The fact that a Chief Executive (from a shortlist pre-approved by China) may be elected is not enough, the people of Hong Kong are entitled to determine their own future by voting in a government of their own choice in free and fair elections.

I would like to thank my opponent for a fascinating debate and also the voters for their interest.
Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by wrichcirw 4 years ago
wrichcirw
Hmmm...very interesting debate. I never knew that Hong Kong wasn't a democracy...!

1) This is the first time I've seen PRO in a serious debate. Very well argued.

2) CON's argument essentially boils down to a fear of populism due to universal suffrage. PRO repeatedly argues in a clear and concise manner that on the whole HK residents already earn decent wages and would not prefer to devolve into a welfare state. Also, what good is a vote if is not representative? CON hits this squarely by arguing how the people should decide their own fate.

All in all, it was a clear victory to PRO. I found CON's arguments unconvincing...they seemed only to amount to a fear of change, as opposed to any tangible concerns. PRO's arguments were also a lot easier to read and follow...I had difficulty determining who was being quoted while reading CON's arguments.
Posted by brian_eggleston 4 years ago
brian_eggleston
I haven't forgotten this one, I've just been away for a long weekend vacation and didn't have time to work on it...
Posted by Avamys 4 years ago
Avamys
Yes the first round is for acceptance only
Posted by brian_eggleston 4 years ago
brian_eggleston
It still shows 4 rounds, I suppose the 1st round is for acceptance?
Posted by brian_eggleston 4 years ago
brian_eggleston
Okay, I accept!
Posted by Avamys 4 years ago
Avamys
So...three rounds?
Posted by brian_eggleston 4 years ago
brian_eggleston
Fewer rounds and I will accept.
Posted by brian_eggleston 4 years ago
brian_eggleston
Fewer rounds and I will accept.
Posted by Avamys 4 years ago
Avamys
Yeah, but there are age limits and prisoners with serious offences like murder cannot vote. And of course permanent residents only.
Posted by AlbinoBunny 4 years ago
AlbinoBunny
Universal suffrage meaning that everyone who is alive is allowed to vote?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 4 years ago
wrichcirw
Avamysbrian_egglestonTied
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Total points awarded:04 
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