Reform Club of Hong Kong

The Reform Club of Hong Kong was one of the oldest political organisations in Hong Kong, existing from 1949 until the mid-1990s. Established by expatriates who were concerned about the Young Plan proposed by Governor Mark Aitchison Young in 1949, the Reform Club was the first semi-political party to contest in the Urban Council elections, with its longtime chairman Brook Bernacchi serving on the Council for about forty years.

Reform Club of Hong Kong
香港革新會
ChairmanBrook Bernacchi
Founded20 January 1949 (1949-01-20)[1]
Dissolvedc. 1995
IdeologyLiberalism
Political positionCentre to Centre-left
Reform Club of Hong Kong
Traditional Chinese香港革新會

It demanded expansion of the power of the Urban Council and elected representatives in the Legislative Council for years. Together with the Hong Kong Civic Association, they were the closest to opposition parties in Hong Kong active in the municipal electoral politics during the post-war colonial period. With the expansion of the franchise in the 1980s, the Reform Club gradually declined and was replaced by the more energetic political groups. The Club ceased to function after its chairman Bernacchi retired from the Urban Council in 1995.

HistoryEdit

The Reform Club was founded by expatriate barrister Brook Bernacchi in 1949 in the midst of the debate over the Young Plan, a plan for wide constitutional reform in Hong Kong. The immediate target of the Club was to campaign for direct elections to the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.[2] Unlike the Hong Kong Chinese Reform Association, which was set up during the same time for similar causes, the Reform Club was dominated by expatriates.[3]

For decades the Reform Club and the Civic Association dominated municipal politics as they provided most of the elected members of the Urban Council.[4] It advocated more representative government in the territory and the improvement of public sector social services. In 1960, the two groups formed a coalition and sent a delegate to London to demand direct elections to the Legislative Council. The Reform Club adopted a modest stance amid the 1966 riots, opposing violent actions from both protesters and the police.[5] In 1979, the Reform Club threatened to boycott elections if the Urban Council would not receive a majority of elected members and universal franchise was extended to all Hong Kong citizens. In 1982, it took part in the elections for the newly established district boards in the urban districts, which significantly extended the franchise.

Starting from the late 1960s, the Club's ability to monopolise Urban Council elections with the Civic Association eroded, in light of the emergence of the popular independent candidates.[6] Before the expansion of the franchise, the Reform Club had 15 members in the Urban Council of 1983. But the Reform Club's influence in the Urban Council reduced during the 1980s. Following the 1989 municipal elections, only five Reform Club members remained due to its lack of grassroots support. The Reform Club and Civic Association were gradually supplanted by the new pro-democracy groups including the Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood and Meeting Point. When at the 1995 municipal elections Brook Bernacchi retired, the Reform Club ceased to be active in the Hong Kong political scene.

Notable membersEdit

 
Founding chairperson Brook Bernacchi

Election performanceEdit

Municipal electionsEdit

Election Number of
popular votes
% of
popular votes
UrbCo
seats
RegCo
seats
Total
elected seats
1952 2,199  33.58 
1 / 2
-
1953 6,374  71.25 
4 / 4
-
1954 7,773  79.64 
4 / 4
-
1955 3,283  89.62 
4 / 4
-
1956 17,085  56.97 
6 / 8
1957 11,716  43.50 
5 / 8
1959 12,030  47.67 
4 / 8
1961 uncontested uncontested
4 / 8
1963 5,177  39.43 
3 / 8
1965 unknown unknown
5 / 10
1967 9,789  24.90 
4 / 10
1969 16,571  49.22 
3 / 10
1971 6,139  16.22 
3 / 10
1973 25,709  55.14 
5 / 12
1975 6,141  12.41 
3 / 12
1977 13,249  41.05 
3 / 12
1979 9,579  18.76 
3 / 12
1981 7,291  28.29 
2 / 12
1983 13,894  15.38 
3 / 15
1986 24,486  6.95 
2 / 15
0 / 12
2 / 27
1989 13,404  6.31 
2 / 15
0 / 12
2 / 27
1991 9,045  2.31 
2 / 15
0 / 12
2 / 27

District Board/Council electionsEdit

Election Number of
popular votes
% of
popular votes
Total
elected seats
+/−
1982 13,644  3.83 
2 / 132
1985 39,929  5.77 
17 / 237
7 
1988 13,572  2.13 
5 / 264
5 
1991 2,136  0.40 
1 / 272
5 

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Reform Club of Hong Kong (1949). Memorandum and articles of Association of the Reform Club of Hong Kong : incorporated the 20th day of January, 1949. Ts'o & Hodgson.
  2. ^ Jones, Catherine M. (1990). Promoting Prosperity: The Hong Kong Way of Social Policy. Chinese University Press. p. 78.
  3. ^ Miners, N. J. (1986). "Plans for Constitutional Reform in Hong Kong, 1946-52". The China Quarterly. 107: 473. doi:10.1017/S0305741000039862. ISSN 0305-7410.
  4. ^ King, Ambrose Yeo-chi (1975). "Administrative Absorption of Politics in Hong Kong: Emphasis on the Grass Roots Level". Asian Survey. 15 (5): 431. doi:10.1525/as.1975.15.5.01p0076b.
  5. ^ Klein, Richard (1997). "The Empire Strikes Back: Britain's Use of the Law to Suppress Political Dissent in Hong Kong". Boston University International Law Journal. 15 (1): 31. ISSN 0737-8947.
  6. ^ Lam, Wai-man (2004). Understanding the Political Culture of Hong Kong: The Paradox of Activism and Depoliticization. M.E. Sharpe. p. 11.

External linksEdit