Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Legco '08

The election of the Legislative Council will be held on the 7th September. Partly because most of the focus was on the Olympics in last two weeks, the election didn't earn the attention it deserves. The Hong Kong election system is a weird mixture of popular votes in geographical constituencies and "privileged votes", mainly by corporations and professionals, in functional constituencies.

Party-list proportional representation system
is adopted in elections in the geographical constituencies. Though such system has been used numerous places, the Hong Kong version has got a number of defects which the government refuses to fix.

First, it employs the Hare quota instead of the Droop quota in determining the first few seats of the constituency. Under the largest remainder method, the last few seats in the constituency can be won with much lower percentage of votes. This encourages parties to split their lists and radical individuals may have a higher chance to get into the Legco. This is evident in the number of lists relative to number of seats in each constituency. For example, 13 lists, with a total of 30 candidates, are competing for 5 seats in the West Kowloon constituency.

Secondly, the system in Hong Kong does not allow voter to express their order of preference for parties. For example, it is highly possible that people who votes for the Civic Party may want to transfer their votes to the Democratic Party if they know their votes would not get an additional candidate to be elected on the Civic Party list. Under the current system, the voters have to try their luck to distribute their votes appropriately so their order of preference can be properly expressed. With a bit of misfortune, the election results could turn against the voters' expectations, as in the 2004 election. The best way going forward is to switch to a Single Transferable Vote system, which allows the voters to state their order of preferences.

A detailed explanation of the problems of the voting system can be found here.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Medals and Happiness

An interesting article as an afterthought for the Olympics:
Happiness on the Medal Stand? It's as Simple as 1-3-2.

Amidst all the debate on whether China topped the medal tables, maybe it's time to reconsider the values of Olympic medals?

Monday, 18 August 2008

Broken Wings

Liu Xiang, the gold medalist of 110 metre hurdles in 2004 Athens Olympics and China's only hopeful in track and field this year, pulls out of the race due to injury. It would not be exaggerating to say that it is a mournful day for all the Chinese.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

"Massive" Bank Merger

Merrill Lynch's chief investment strategist Richard Bernstein says banks and brokerages need ``massive'' consolidation. So who would be the candidates? HSBC is often speculated as a potential acquirer due to its relatively stable performance. So who would be the targets? How about HSBC-UBS (which certainly is a clumsy name)? HSBC-ML had also been rumoured for a link-up previously though the cultural gap will prove difficult to bridge. How about an All-American marriage? With the current situation of the US banks, it will be anything but likely.