Housewives choose wrong day

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 April, 1998, 12:00am

Voters gave a mixed response to an election involving only 140,000 of 2.8 million registered electors.

While many who were entitled to a second vote failed to turn up at polling stations, some who were enthusiastic enough to boost the turnout found the door shut.

At Lung Hang polling station, two housewives turned up with toddlers in pushchairs and prepared to cast their votes.

They were told by election staff it was election day - but not for them.

'I was wondering why the station was so quiet. I thought I should help out but I haven't got a vote,' grumbled one of the women.

By 3.30 pm, the polling station had only recorded 68 voters from the social welfare subsector. But it was not as quiet as the catering subsector's station at Sha Tin, where only five votes had been cast after eight hours.

Teresa Lau had a battle finding the education subsector station at Wo Che Community Centre, Sha Tin - tucked away on a fourth floor podium amid a jungle of public housing buildings.

At Prince of Wales Hospital, doctors had to climb a dimly-lit staircase to get to the voting station.

E-mail, the Internet and mobile phones became last-minute lobbying channels for contenders desperate to boost their chances of success.

Some information technology subsector candidates launched homepages to canvass for votes.

Hopeful Julia Wong Yuk-kuen said she had sent e-mail to voters she knew. But she preferred direct communication which she believed would show her sincerity.

Contender Agnes Mak Tang Pik-yee applied for a half-day off on Wednesday and made 50 phone calls seeking support.

Financial services subsector candidate Fung Chi-kin, Bank of China securities vice-chairman, had staff carrying placards bearing his name at busy junctions in Central throughout the day.

The Society of Accountants hired three minibuses to carry voters to polling stations in Kowloon and on Hong Kong Island every 20 minutes.

Real Estate Developers Association staff monitored which companies had voted at polling stations and phoned voters urging them to turn out.

In Tsim Sha Tsui, supporters of some information technology candidates made a last-minute attempt to drum up support in Nathan Road.

They hung banners and flew flags and dressed in T-shirts bearing candidates' names.