Officials asked to be fair to all candidates

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2007, 12:00am

Electoral Affairs Commission chairman Pang Kin-kee has warned government officials to be fair to candidates during elections.

'If you have given an opportunity to one candidate but are not meeting the others ... you need to be fair with that,' Mr Justice Pang said.

He was questioned about reports of hree ministers meeting Legislative Council by-election candidate Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee to discuss policies, and an allegation that Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen sent an e-mail asking senior government officials to co-operate with Mrs Ip. Mr Tang has denied sending any such e-mail.

By yesterday, the commission had received two complaints of government officials using public resources to canvass for a candidate in the by-election. Mr Justice Pang said the commission was investigating but could not say if a conclusion would be made by polling day on December 2.

He reiterated that the code for ministers under the 'accountability system' and chapter 19 of the Legislative Council election guidelines say ministers should not use public resources for any election-related activities.

Speaking at a meeting of the Legislative Council constitutional affairs panel, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung said ministers' recent meetings with Mrs Ip had not amounted to electioneering.

He also denied the government had extended preferential treatment, saying it had decided to give an equal chance to all candidates.

Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, challenged the arrangement, saying the administration should not tailor a policy that only applied to a few candidates.

Ahead of the opening of the two-week nomination period tomorrow, the field for the Legco by-election has grown, with barrister Lee Wing-kin announcing that he had secured the 100 nominations required to run. Roger Chan Yuet-tung, better known as 'Bus Uncle', also said yesterday he would run.