Newspaper portrayal and legislative voting process : a case study of statutory minimun wage in Hong Kong

  • Ngai Chiu WONG

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


Statuary Minimum Wage (SMW) has been discussed for 13 years in post-colonial Hong Kong and was finally legislated for in 2010. Scholars have attempted to explain how and why SMW was legislated for in post-colonial Hong Kong. They have argued that the growing public demand for the legislation created huge pressure for legislators. Even though previous studies have provided explanations for how the policy was made, they have failed to articulate two fundamental questions: how the Legislative Council lawmakers took notice of the problem of working poor and the need to vote in favor of SMW in Hong Kong? These are important steps that might influence lawmakers’ voting actions. Studies of legislative voting processes and policy-making processes indicate that if lawmakers fail to take notice of a problem or the need to change, they will not then initiate any policy reform or vote in favor with the proposed policies.

This thesis makes an attempt to remedy the weaknesses of previous research. It is assumed that the newspapers in Hong Kong acted as storytellers that facilitated the lawmakers in the city - identifying the problem of working poor and the need to vote in favor with the legislation of SMW. The study also pays attention to a specific question of why lawmakers changed their positions regarding SMW while they oversaw the issues with working poor and minimum wage legislation. The thesis assumes that the local newspapers’ portrayals of SMW might influence the lawmakers’ positions.

Firstly, the research findings show that selected newspapers preferred positive themes to negative themes when discussing SMW since 2004. Before 2004, SMW portrayals were diverse. Secondly, the research findings show that the interaction between the readers’ attention to the issues and the newspapers’ attention to those issues were mutual. On the one hand, while the readers’ attention to the issue of SMW increased, the number of reports made by the newspapers on the subject increased - and vice versa. On the other hand, the newspapers successfully attracted and maintained their readers’ attention to SMW via their reporting techniques.

Additionally, the research findings point out that the newspapers had an important role in affecting lawmakers’ voting actions to SMW. They show that lawmakers would take notice of the needs for the legislation of SMW via the newspapers’ reports and hence re-evaluated their positions regarding the case.

Last but not least, the research findings show that there was a correlation between newspaper portrayals and the voting behavior of lawmakers. In general, the three major political parties in Hong Kong – Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, Democratic Party and Liberal Party – changed their positions after the publication of newspaper articles addressing the parties’ consideration for the legislation of the minimum wage.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Political Science
SupervisorWai Keung TAM (Supervisor) & Che Po CHAN (Supervisor)

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