Lesson in consultation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 12:00am

I wish to comment on the leader headlined 'People power at work in voting hours U-turn' (September 27).

A further consultation on polling hours for the District Council elections is, it seems, the only alternative.

If the prime concern is possible disruption to the public, I propose prohibiting all active publicity in the city from, say, 8pm on polling day. Polling itself should not be annoying. We should target the hoopla instead.

If the reason for seeking a curtailment of hours is money, then I propose cutting the hours in the morning, which seems more cost-effective. However, this may result in longer queues in certain polling centres which would discourage the appetite for voting.

Personally I am disappointed at the U-turn. I adore Judge Woo Kwok-hing, chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission, and I expected a higher standard of work. When the announcement of the shorter polling hours did not gather public support, the commission attributed that to the outbreak of Sars. It is ridiculous to conclude that the public supported the proposal to reduce voting hours because of the dominance of the affirmative opinion. It all depends on the response, and only around 200 submissions were received.

Clearly, the consultation was unsuccessful, even if this was due to external factors, and it was inevitable that it would have to be done again.

The result of the next consultation will have a profound impact on not only District Council elections but on future Legislative Council elections.

The public should be well informed about the number of complaints about disruption, the polling rate in the last three hours, and the alternatives. It is a subtle issue and requires a scientific and comprehensive approach in order to reach a well-reasoned decision.

Wouldn't it be better if they had done the re-consultation in advance, instead of undergoing a U-turn in order to hear our views?

ANDY CHENG, North Point