E-mail forum to substitute for elections

July 15, 2004 at 1:27 AM
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HONG KONG, July 15 (UPI) -- In response to demands for greater democracy, the Hong Kong government plans to set up an e-mail forum to solicit middle-class views on public policy.

Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Stephen Fisher said Wednesday the government would invite about 600 business and professional people to participate in e-mail and online chat group forums, as a means of involving them in policy- and decision-making, the South China Morning Post reported.

The government would appoint forum members for one to two years, but it had not yet decided how they would be selected, the paper said.

Critics of the plan said the public had enough channels to voice their views, as government and academic bodies as well as political parties routinely conduct public polls.

They said the problem was the government's failure to respond to known public views.

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