Day of reckoning

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 May, 2001, 12:00am

What a difference a day makes. Or three, in the case of the election date for the Chief Executive. It will now be held on a Sunday instead of midweek, allowing most of the 800-member committee to exercise their votes without having to take time off work.

After all the jibes directed at Constitutional Secretary Michael Suen Ming-yeung, when he set voting day for a Thursday so as not to interfere with the leisure pursuits of the great and the good, it turns out that disrupting their golfing weekends was not what bothered him. The problem was the Easter weekend that falls within the ambit of the 90-day rule next year.

Rather than teeing off on the greens at Clear Water Bay or Fanling, tycoons might have been sunning themselves on the beaches of exotic holiday destinations. Even committee members with a more modest life style might have headed for Thailand for a long weekend. And an election committee that could not corral enough voters to form a quorum could be embarrassing. Or perhaps not. There's nothing in the bill to cover low voter turnout. Presumably if just one committee member shows up on the day, the name against the cross on his or her ballot paper gets the job.

What a pity Mr Suen didn't explain the true situation when he was grilled at Legco. However, the Government deserves credit for bowing to public pressure. And now that the rules have been changed to 95 days before the new term, the research is shown to have been thorough.

Officials have checked to ensure that the following five elections steer clear of Easter - a movable feast based around the Paschal full moon, which is different from the ordinary full moon, and horribly complicated to calculate.

Fortunately, such information is all on the Internet, which - in the cyber-city of the future - will probably be how votes are cast.