Rights fear on laws for lobbying

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 September, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 September, 1995, 12:00am

PEOPLE who lobby for voters to boycott specific election candidates should obtain written authorisation from one of the targeted candidate's opponents before spending money to launch their campaigns, according to the ICAC.

The remark has given rise to fears of human rights abuse, because it bars the public's freedom to express openly their views on election candidates.

The Corrupt and Illegal Practices Ordinance says that election expenses means expenses incurred for promoting or procuring the election of a candidate.

'Negative campaigning activities can be regarded as election activities and, as such, expenses so incurred should be counted as election expenses,' the ICAC says.

The group launching the 'negative campaign' should obtain written authorisation from his/her opponent candidate before incurring any election expenses, if targeted at a specific candidate, it says.

United Ants, a human rights group which launched 'negative campaigns' against four candidates at last September's district board elections, said the rule would restrict the rights of the public in criticising election candidates.

A Human Rights Commission spokesman said: 'The Government does not give people the freedom of oral expression only, when it involves distributing handbills or written materials, of course it involves money'.