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Title: Discourse in cyberspace: A case study on public engagement of a major development project in Hong Kong
Author(s): Wong, Yu Cheung 
Author(s): Yu, R. W. M.
Law, C. K.
Issue Date: 2010
Conference: The 7th East Asian Social Policy Research Network Annual Conference 
In Hong Kong, government advisory bodies such as the Legislative Council and the district-based District Council, which are supposed to represent the interests of various sectors in the community, would be consulted on major development projects. In addition, civil society organizations and political parties would also play the role of mediate in engaging the public in their negotiation with the government. With the proliferation of information technology (penetration rate of internet among household in Hong Kong is around 70% in December 2009), the internet is becoming a significant venue for the public to participate in community issues. Government departments, political parties, as well as individual bureaucrats and political activists are also using e-communication to collect views and communicate with stakeholders and the public at large. However, despite the existence of conventional mechanism and these novel attempts, conflicts continue and communication breaks down, resulting in an ever-increasing mistrust between the two parties. This paper examines the role of e-participation and mobilization a controversial HK$66.9 billion public project in Hong Kong in 2009-2010 (Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link). Traditional channels for community engagement are taken as failing to represent the views of the public and not effective to have any impact. Web-based discussions have encouraged an expanded participation and have influenced the range of topics discussed. This case is a turning point in the use of the internet as a venue for public participation in Hong Kong. Contents of the information and communication posted on major discussion forums and relevant websites regarding this project would be analyzed and compared with those views expressed through traditional channels, e.g. deputations in Legislative Council. The participants, themes, as well as the breadth and depth of the discussion would be examined and differences/similarities identified. Finally, barriers to communication and possible ways to achieve a deeper level of community engagement discussed.
CIHE Affiliated Publication: No
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