Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Anna Lo’

Motivating London’s Chinese to Vote

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 25th April, 2012

Among London’s various ethnic groups, British Chinese have tended to steer clear of politics in the past, though that is beginning to change. Much of the credit for that must go to the BC (British Chinese) Project and its indefatigable activist Joseph Wu, who uses every opportunity to encourage Chinese in Britain to register to vote, to go out and vote and indeed stand for election. There have been some notable successes, such as Councillor Linda Chung (LibDem) in Hampstead and the former Mayor of Redbridge, Thomas Chan (Conservative). In Northern Ireland, the Alliance Party (a sister party of the LibDems) succeeded in getting Anna Lo elected as the Stormont member for South Belfast. And now for the first time, an ethnic Chinese candidate is standing for the London Assembly (GLA): the LibDem Merlene Emerson, originally from Singapore. She is Number 5 on the LibDem proportional list, so her getting in is entirely dependent on the percentage of LibDem votes City-wide. The LibDems had five GLA members back in 2000, though there are currently only three, so it is not an impossible target. And with the help of the BC Project, Merlene’s candidature has been promoted amongst the capital’s Chinese community, which is far more extensive than just the habitués of the tourist-drawing Chinatown near Leicester Square. Merlene has also been actively courting other groups in multicultural London and even got her efforts to persuade older Chinese to go out and vote for the first time written up in French! The Chinese media — mainland and otherwise — has naturally homed in on her campaign. Whatever one’s political affiliations, having a Chinese member of the GLA would certainly make the body more representative of London than it is at present. So from my (admittedly biased) position I can only say to her: 祝你好运!


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Getting the Chinese in Britain to Vote

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 13th April, 2009

chinese-voting-initiative-chinatownYesterday afternoon — between a Liberal Democrat Friends of Turkey social in Hackney and meeting up with the Tamil demonstrators in Parliament Square — I took part in a Chinese community event in Gerard Street, Chinatown, Westminster, to urge ethnic Chinese in Britain to play a fuller part in public life in this country. The first step is to get thousands of them to register to vote. Hence the ‘Get Active Get Voting Campaign 2009’ , which will try to maximise enrolment in the run-up to June’s Euro-elections. As Leslie Ng, President of London Chinatown Chinese Association, commented, ‘A lot of Chinese did not vote partly because of the language difficulties and partly because they didn’t know how or who they should vote for. ‘ Leslie and several colleagues kept up a lively running comentary over a sound-system as volunteers handed out leaflets from a colourful stall. The organisers even inveigled me into speaking a few phrases in my (now rusty) Mandarin. And the event was covered by the People’s Daily in Beijing!

The tide is beginning to turn, from apathy to participation. Liberal Democrats in London had a welcome boost to ethnic Chinese representation in London local politics when Linda Chung won the Hampstead Town by-election a few months ago, while in Northern Ireland, Anna Lo won a seat on the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast for the Alliance Party at the last assembly elections.

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