Paulus Johannes Zimmerman (Chinese: 司馬文; born 8 November 1958) is a Dutch-born Hong Kong environmentalist, politician and businessman. He is a member of the Southern District Council for Pokfulam and CEO of Designing Hong Kong, a group that advocates better urban design.
Zimmerman was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands of Jewish origin in 1958. He was on the editorial board of an underground newspaper when he was in high school. when he was 17, Zimmerman was part of a demonstration against the closing down of the school and getting rid of the headmaster. He graduated with a master programme in Social Science (Economics) from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam.
He moved to Hong Kong as a three-month trainee in a Dutch bank in 1984 as he did not want to go to the military service. He started his own business, Bridge Design in Hong Kong, in 1987 and sold it to Caribiner International in 1997. He continued to work for the people who bought his company until in 2000 when he left the company. He was also a director of the Jebsen Travel, Pacific Aviation Marketing and MF Jebsen Automotive from 2003 to 2010. He is currently the vice-chairman of the Coalition on Sustainable Tourism and a member of the advisory committee at Ocean Park Academy.
Zimmerman got into politics in 2003, when he started working on the harbour front with the professionals and green groups. He set up a non-governmental organisation which later grew to Designing Hong Kong Harbour District to Designing Hong Kong, which devoted to improving Hong Kong's waterfronts and promoting liveable density.
In 2006, he joined the newly founded professional-oriented Civic Party. He represented the Civics to run in the Hong Kong Election Committee Subsector election, 2006 through the tourism subsector but was not elected.
In 2007 District Council election, Zimmerman ran against Wong Wang-tai in Stubbs Road in Wan Chai District Council, a upper-middle-class constituency, but was lost by a margin of 129 votes. He later won a seat in Pokfulam in the Southern District Council in a by-election in 2010, succeeding Ronald Chan Ngok-pang who resigned after being hired to the Chief Executive's Office. He was re-elected in 2011 and 2015.
He first bid to the Legislative Council was in 2008 when he ran in the Tourism functional constituency. He lost in a four-way contest to independent Paul Tse, receiving 81 votes.
In 2012, Zimmerman intended to run in the territory-wide District Council (Second) "super seat" in the 2012 Legislative Council election and left the Civic Party when the party refused to nominate him. He gave up his Dutch citizenship but did not get enough nominations and subsequently endorsed another pro-democracy candidate Frederick Fung. He also ran in the 2012 election of the Hong Kong delegates to the National People's Congress but was not elected as expected in the pro-Beijing dominated election.
On 1 October 2014, Zimmerman took a yellow umbrella to protest at a China National Day reception in Hong Kong in the midst of the Umbrella Revolution which thousands of protesters occupied the streets of city centres of Hong Kong protested against the Chinese government's restriction on the Chief Executive election.
In the 2016 Legislative Council election, Zimmerman ran in Hong Kong Island as an independent democrat. He dropped out of the race within a week of the election because he did not want to split the vote among pro-democratic candidates, but his name still appeared on the ballot.
He is also a member of the Professional Commons and director of the Civic Exchange. In 2015, he became the chairman of the Hong Kong Democratic Foundation. He was also a director of the moderate political group Path of Democracy for a brief period of time.
Besides his master degree in economics from Erasmus University, Zimmerman also obtained a master's degree in transport planning at the University of Hong Kong. He has married twice. With his first wife, he has two sons. He remarried with his girlfriend Jannie in 2012. The couple has a daughter.