“Community Integration through Civility and Democracy” Project Series (the “Community Democracy Project”)

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“Community Integration through Civility and Democracy”
(the “Community Democracy Project”)

Project Outline ( version of 2020.1.10 )

Introduction

§ With the completion of the 2019 District Council Election, the Hong Kong Public Opinion Program (HKPOP) under the governance of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) has decided to launch the “Community Integration through Civility and Democracy, CICD” Project (or the “Community Democracy Project” or “Project CD” or “Project CICD” or “民主社區互助共融計劃” in Chinese) in order to bring Hong Kong to new heights in terms of civility and democracy.

§ The purpose of the Community Democracy Project is to provide a means for Hongkongers to re-integrate ourselves through mutual respect, rational deliberations, civilized discussions, personal empathy, social integration, and when needed, resolution of conflicts through democratic means. It is the rebuilding of our Hong Kong society starting from the community level following the spirit of science and democracy. We shall stand firm to defend our liberty, but we shall also bear the responsibility of proving ourselves worthy of such liberties. Unity in diversity is our ideal.

District Councilors as Key Leaders

§ Community Democracy would engage Hongkongers across all communities in a modern and brand-new way via the leadership of individual District Councilors within their own service districts and the Chairmen of District Councils where overall macroscopic development is concerned. HKPOP will therefore invite all Chairmen of District Councils to form the Advisory Committee of the Community Democracy Project under the auspices of HKPOP. Members of the Advisory Committee, however, can delegate their rights and authorities to their deputies and/or representatives. The Community Democracy Project Advisory Committee will propose and design various initiatives and activities at community and/or territory-wide levels. Individual District Councils and District Councilors may opt to join and implement the initiatives according to their district needs.

§ Under the Community Democracy Project, all District Councilors registered for the Project irrespective of their political inclination and affiliation are entitled to do the following:

  • Send at least one staff or assistant to HKPOP for training as Community Democracy Local Coordinator, who will still be hired and supervised by the councilor concerned and stationed at the councilor’s office;
  • Set up at least one Community Democracy Project service outlet which would be used for collecting public opinions regarding local and territory-wide issues using methods suggested by HKPOP;
  • Conduct physical and online surveys, deliberative meetings, civil referendums, and so on under the guidance of HKPOP using instruments developed by HKPOP;
  • Use district- and territory-based panels of community members established by HKPOP to discuss local issues and territory-wide matters;
  • Promote community cooperation and shared economy riding on the panels of community members mentioned before.

HKPOP as Knowledge and Service Provider

§ In term of resources, the Community Democracy Project would work on a community-based non-profit-making cum self-sustainable principle, independent of the funding system adopted by various District Councils. In other words, participation in the Community Democracy Project by different councilors or the groups they belong to would have zero implication on the funding process of the Councils, which would continue to vet project proposals in exactly the same way as they used to do. Whether HKPOP would participate in those projects is also irrelevant. HKPOP would also not make any profit out of the Community Democracy Project, but would require all project activities to follow the professional guidelines set by HKPOP.

§ Put it in the simplest way, the Community Democracy Project would operate like franchised activities developed by HKPOP only that no franchise fee would be collected by HKPOP. On the contrary, HKPOP would try to generate synergy between communities by developing tools which would help people communicate with each other, help one another, resolve conflicts, develop community-based economy, empower the weak, and create a sense of togetherness through mutual respect and democratic means. HKPOP supporting activities, like staff training, survey services, data analysis, quality control and so on, would be provided on a need basis and charged on a cost-recovery basis.

Young Ambassadors, Senior Mentors, Sponsors and Volunteers

§ To facilitate the smooth running of the Community Democracy Project, HKPOP would employ and deploy “Community Democracy Young Ambassadors” to crisscross between communities to help councilors and residents promote and conduct research under the Community Democracy Project. HKPOP would raise funds from private foundations, conscientious enterprises and generous individuals to cover the employment of Young Ambassadors in order to create synergy among different sectors in the community.

§ Each Young Ambassador would be paid a salary of HK$10,000 per month for 6 months excluding various allowances and provident fund contributions. The total cost for each post is estimated to be HK$90,000 in total to be covered by sponsorship. Any sponsor, say, by the name of ABC who would sponsor more than 10 Young Ambassadors in one go is entitled to name the team as the “ABC Team of Community Democracy Young Ambassadors” in honor of one’s generosity. Moreover, all sponsors can choose to keep in touch with the Young Ambassadors they have sponsored so as to maintain a collegial cum mentoring relationship.

§ In the course of employing and deploying the “Community Democracy Young Ambassadors”, HKPOP would also appoint a group of senior citizens to become “Community Democracy Senior Mentors” so as to work hand in hand with the Young Ambassadors. This would further break the age barrier by sharing a common belief in democracy. These Mentors will not receive any payment or allowance, but they will work with the Young Ambassadors as a team.

§ HKPOP hopes that the Young Ambassadors Scheme would provide employment opportunities for those young people who have worked hard for democracy but may not have received a fair reward. Priority will be given to those in need of material support and immaterial recognition for the sacrifice they have made. Sponsors would be invited to evaluate the need of the young applicants although HKPOP would make the final decision of their employment. HKPOP hopes to provide a chance for these young people to interact and integrate with those people and organizations who really want to help them.

§ Running the Community Democracy Young Ambassadors Scheme and other events requires a lot of manpower, HKPOP hopes to recruit a team of volunteer administrators, event managers, communication experts, infographic designers, fundraisers, among others, to support the project. These volunteers will not receive any payment or allowance, but they will work as a team to make the Community Democracy Project a civic program owned by the civic society.

Activities

§ Online recruitment for Community Democracy Young Ambassadors, Senior Mentors, individual or corporate sponsors, and all types of volunteers has already started in December 2019, via the website at https://www.pori.hk, email address info+cicd@pori.hk and telephone number 3844-3111 calling Mr Lee or Ms Pang.

§ The Community Democracy Project was officially launched in January 2020, it conducted its first round of online opinion survey in early January on the public’s expectation on the roles and functions of District Councilors. Up to 9 January 2020, about 14,000 Hong Kong residents have participated in the survey, among whom over 5,000 provided open-ended answers. Residents generally expected the new District Councilors to review and reform the conventional system and culture of the District Council; to monitor the operation of District Council and government departments; to thoroughly understand the problems and needs of the community and therefore make solution; to adopt an innovative mindset in promoting community development and in improving people’s livelihood; to enhance public participation by different means and collect their views by a bottom-up approach; and to transit community views on controversial issues to the government. (For more details, please see research reports uploaded at pori.hk)

§ The Community Democracy Project was officially launched in January 2020, it conducted its first round of online opinion survey in early January on the public’s expectation on the roles and functions of District Councilors. Up to 9 January 2020, about 14,000 Hong Kong residents have participated in the survey, among whom over 5,000 provided open-ended answers. Residents generally expected the new District Councilors to review and reform the conventional system and culture of the District Council; to monitor the operation of District Council and government departments; to thoroughly understand the problems and needs of the community and therefore make solution; to adopt an innovative mindset in promoting community development and in improving people’s livelihood; to enhance public participation by different means and collect their views by a bottom-up approach; and to transit community views on controversial issues to the government. (For more details, please see research reports uploaded at pori.hk)

§ In light of the public’s expectations on the new District Councilors, and in line with the new roles and functions the the councilors, HKPOP has drafted the following training plans:

Themes Objectives Examples
Residents’ Panel • Handle residents’ contact information systematically
• Collect residents’ data scientifically, in order to track opinion changes
• Information collected from street stations, intake case works, household visit
• Online platforms with high degree of information security
Needs Assessment • Provide representative data to understand community needs, including people’s livelihood, community economy, community service, transport facilities
• Promote community development
• Example: survey on economic pressure of the residents, need for community services
Opinion Polls • Collect views by bottom-up approach
• Provide representative data to understand residents’ views on certain social issues
• Example: public consultation on community development projects
Deliberation Meetings • Public discussion on community issues
• Promote community participation and community democracy
• Example: utility of public space and environmental protection
Participatory Budgeting • Direct participation in setting priorities for public spending
• Encourage democratic deliberation and decision in using public money
• Example: using District Council funding on different items
PopVote (E-voting platform) • Resolving controversial problems by democratic means
• Using citizen authorization as the ground for making decisions
• Example: whether to build public estates in certain places, whether to set up Democracy Walls
Programme Evaluation / Social Impact Assessment • Accountability to residents, reviewing councilors’ performance
• Evaluation on the impacts of proposed projects
• Example: regularly reviews of people’s satisfaction, social impact assessment on different projects
Action Research • Led by residents
• Resolve community problems to empower residents
• Example: residents form research teams to examine and resolve community problems
Knowledge Sharing • Learn the basic knowledge of surveys
• Learn how to design a survey
• Learn the technical skills of surveying
• Learn how to analyze the survey results
• Applied to community surveys
• Understand science and democracy

§ Based on the themes mentioned before, the Community Democracy Project has drafted the following activities:

Early to mid-January: Invite all District Councilors to join the Community Democracy Project
Conduct Community Democracy Surveys, and to invite Councilors from the most popular constituencies to press conferences to react to the survey findings
Organise informal meetings with District Councilors to solicit suggestions for the project
Distribute leaflets to invite people joining district-based PopPanels
February: First wave of trainings (on basic knowledge)
Using “Circular Mail” issued by participating councillors, promotion desks, home visits, floor visits, and so on to recruit residents into district-based PopPanels
March to June: Other training sessions (about one to two sessions per topic, depending on enrolment figures)

First draft dated 28 November 2019
Latest draft dated 10 January 2020

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