Poll rally organisers attack voting culture

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 12:00am

Organisers of tomorrow's rally to mobilise support for pro-democracy candidates in the district council polls say strict adherence to election law adversely affects the city's voting culture.

Some have demanded that the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung be held accountable if the turn-out rate this year is poorer than the 35.8 per cent in 1999, saying the government has done little to arouse people's interest in voting.

Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, head of Power for Democracy and chief rally organiser, said they had to cancel some of the performances by amateur singers and dancers originally scheduled for the rally. The move followed a meeting with officials from the Registration and Electoral Office.

Professor Cheng said they were notified that they might breach section 12 of the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance, under which they were told the original programme might constitute the offence of providing entertainment to induce a person to vote for particular candidates.

The organisers were also dealt another blow as popular Commercial Radio's hosts Albert Cheng King-hon and Peter Lam Yuk-wah suddenly turned down their invitation to be the MCs of the event because their employer wanted them to maintain their neutrality.

'After discussing with different political parties and groups, we decide to comply with their advice because we want to uphold the good political culture and avoid stepping into any grey area,' he said. But Professor Cheng stressed that they would demand the office look into the problematic provisions after the elections on November 23.

A spokesman of the Registration and Electoral Office said they only asked the organisers to pay heed to any possibility of infringing the ordinance.