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In Conversation with David Webb


In Conversation with David Webb

STEPHEN DAVIES: “Do you think the functional constituency idea, as it’s been implemented in Hong Kong, is in principle okay, or do you think, like many thoughtful people, the functional constituencies should never been there in the first place? “
DAVID WEBB: “It’s just not a sensible way to construct your government. We don’t bother with lobby groups in Hong Kong because we give them their own seats in the congress or parliament, and that’s not a sensible way forward.”

This week Stephen Davies is “In Conversation” with David Webb, a former investment banker who spent 12 years in the field, seven of them in Hong Kong. Today, as a financial analyst and activist, he is sometimes referred to as the financial sector’s “Long Hair”, in reference to legislator Leung Kwok-hung.

Since retiring from investment banking in 1998, he has set up the website, the aim of which is to ensure greater transparency in Hong Kong’s financial sector and - by implication – its government. The site features reports and articles on corporate and economic governance, business, finance, investment, and legal and regulatory affairs. It is also the home of the Webb-site Who's Who, a detailed database on companies, organisations, and people in Hong Kong and elsewhere, sourced from the public domain. It contains more than 100,000 names and also tracks appointments to government advisory bodies to illuminate.

David Webb believes there’s a long history of collusion between government and business in Hong Kong , allowing some areas of Hong Kong’s financial activities to be run almost like private fiefdoms.

In terms of Hong Kong’s economic and political development he feels that too much emphasis is being placed on public nomination for the 2017 Chief Executive election and not enough on the 2016 Legco election, which is not only a stepping stone to the 2020 election, but also to the potential shape and make-up of the nominating committee in 2017. It is vital, he says, to dilute the power of special interests and functional constituencies in Legco. Currently, even the financial sector is not fairly represented:

"What is called the financial services legislator is actually the small brokers’ legislator because there are, not individuals, but about 500 companies that have a vote, many of which have common parent companies. And it’s based on the original trading seats on the Stock Exchange, and that’s about 500 electorate in total, but there are 30,000 people with a current SFC licence who have been entrusted to handle your money but are not entrusted to vote for the legislator in that seat … We need to be realistic about what we can do to dilute the FCs in 2016 and have a really representative nominating committee in 2017.”

In Conversation

  • Video
  • English
  • On-going
Most of the time, most of the people we see talking on current affairs shows are people who are there to discuss the issue of the day. In reality, these people are multi-facetted and multi-dimensional. "In Conversation" is a talk show, hosted by Stephen Davies, that hopes to get beyond the single issue interview. In choosing our guests we want to find people in whom we can bring out many dimensions of their experience, knowledge, and hopes. They may be politicians, artists, writers, social figures, or - indeed - come from any walk of life. The aim is to have a conversation that may sometimes be challenging or revealing, but that does not necessarily follow the standard question and answer format. Conversations are, after all, better when two people are talking, and two people are listening.
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