Address? 'Next to the vegetable stall'
Despite the government's crackdown against vote-rigging, an incomplete inspection of the voters' list for the September election has found at least 161 names with suspicious or vague home addresses.
Addresses as brief as the name of a village or path - mostly in rural parts of New Territories West - were accepted as home addresses of eligible voters, a South China Morning Post reporter learned after scanning the list for about three hours. The reporter was not allowed to take notes while reading.
The finding has alarmed the district's candidates, who fear the incomplete information could open the door to foul play.
'We are very worried about the fairness and cleanness of the election,' said Gary Fan Kwok-wai, a candidate in New Territories West representing the new NeoDemocrat party. 'It seems that the government has still been unable to crack down on suspicious voters despite vowing to do so.'
A spokeswoman for the Registration and Electoral Office yesterday said the office tried to verify applicants' addresses, asking them for proof when incomplete information was submitted.
The crackdown against vote-rigging has knocked 216,000 people off the voters' list for failing to validate their home addresses.
The Post yesterday scanned the voters' list at the Registration and Electoral Office. The list of 3.47 million names was released on Wednesday.
On the list were at least 161 people who failed to provide either a house number or doorplate number for their home address. Mostly from the Sheung Shui rural area, they include nine people who gave their address as simply 'Tong Kung Leng Village'; five others said they lived in 'Ying Poon Village'; while none provided house numbers.
Eight names are registered as living in 'a wooden house in Sheung Shui Tsiu Keng', which is a 4.5-kilometre-long trail in Fanling.
Two people simply said they lived 'next to a vegetable stall in Kwu Tung', while one is registered as living in Tai Po's 'Tai Mei Tuk Barbeque King'.
There may be a legitimate explanation, said Democratic Party candidate Wong Sing-chi, because old village house sometimes had no number. But that also made them useful for vote-riggers, because it made it difficult for them to receive mail, he said.
Apart from the 161 vague addresses, many voters gave a commercial building, industrial block, church or school as their residence.
The government promised to strengthen the system after the scandal of last November's district council elections. The Independent Commission Against Corruption charged 52 people for giving false or non-existent addresses after that election.
Yip Wai-ming, a candidate from the Beijing-loyalist Federation of Trade Unions, agreed that the government should inspect voter registrations more stringently to prevent vote-rigging.
Fan noted that the vague addresses mean candidates cannot send them campaign information, such as their electoral platforms.