Polling session may be extended

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 January, 2007, 12:00am

The hour-long polling session for the chief executive election may be extended by up to an hour to accommodate latecomers, the government said.

A protest zone also will be set up at the venue, but officials have refused to say if it will be located far from the polling hall.

The 796 voters will cast their ballots between 9am and 10am on March 25 at the AsiaWorld-Expo near Chek Lap Kok airport.

Constitutional Affairs Secretary Stephen Lam Sui-lung said the government would consider a longer balloting period amid worries that voters might miss out if they arrived late. Discussions would be held with the electoral office to consider if polling could be extended by 30 minutes or an hour, he told the Legislative Council constitutional affairs panel. He said the counting hall would have a public gallery for people to observe the counting process.

Democrat legislator Cheung Man-kwong said the government had the responsibility to engage the public and hold election forums.

But Mr Lam said a government-run forum might be seen as biased towards the incumbent chief executive, who has already declared his intention to seek re-election. Chief Electoral Officer Lam Man-ho confirmed that a protest zone would be provided at Chek Lap Kok but would not say how far away from the polling hall it would be.

Veteran protest activist Leung Kwok-hung, who is also an ex-officio Election Committee member because of his Legco seat, told the panel he intended to protest inside the hall.