Confusion over need for by-election

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 April, 1998, 12:00am

CONFUSION reigned yesterday over whether a by-election should be called if candidates for the direct election were disqualified after the polls were held.

Acting Chief Secretary for Administration Michael Suen Ming-yeung, said there should be a by-election.

However, Mr Justice Woo Kwok-hing, chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission, said it depended on whether the participation of the disqualified candidate had affected the result.

There were seven withdrawals before the nomination period ended on Friday by candidates who held foreign right of abode.

Mr Suen told a radio phone-in programme that the election legislation made it clear that candidates for geographical and functional constituencies, apart from 12 designated ones, should not have foreign right of abode.

He said if a candidate was found to have such a right and was disqualified after the election, even if he was defeated, the election for the seat had to be held again.

'This is my understanding but I have to seek legal opinion again,' he said.

It was difficult for the Government to check all candidates' nationalities especially whether they had British right of abode, he said.

He refused to say whether there was any difference in the understanding of the British right of abode by the SAR and the Beijing governments.

Democrat Dr John Tse Wing-ling withdrew from the election, saying he had taken his British passport to be merely a travel document.

But Mr Justice Woo said a by-election might not be necessary if a candidate who did not qualify had no impact on the election results.

He said the Electoral Affairs Commission might consider passing on all cases regarding nationality problems to police for investigation.