ICAC lays down the law on publications

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 July, 2008, 12:00am

Any publications distributed to promote or prejudice candidates would be regarded as election advertisements and the cost counted as election expenses, the anti-graft agency said yesterday.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption issued the clarification two days before the opening of nominations tomorrow for the Legislative Council election.

But it did not comment directly on a controversial supplement published by the Apple Daily newspaper on the day of last December's by-election that was seen as supporting former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang.

The ICAC's programme co-ordinator for elections, Rosaline Cheung Oi-lung, said the law was 'quite clear' on regulation of election advertisements.

'In general situations, according to the Elections Ordinance, election advertisements include any publicly exhibited notices in the form of publications, which carry the purpose to promote or prejudice the candidates,' she said.

'The cost incurred will be counted as election expenses.'

Demands for clarification arose after Apple Daily published 500,000 supplements carrying the headline 'Mrs Chan at a critical state' on polling day for the by-election, December 2.

It was seen by critics as an attempt to sway voters to support Mrs Chan, who defeated former security minister Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee. Mrs Chan said the supplement was nothing to do with her but Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung said in March that the publication might involve election expenses.

Ms Cheung said the ICAC had received 20 reports during the by-election last year, of which nine involved corrupt conduct, such as offering bribes to voters, and 11 involved illegal conduct such as issuing false statements.

Seventeen of the complaints could be pursued and Ms Cheung said some of them were still under investigation.

She also said the ICAC had stepped up promotion and education measures since March.

Graft check

The total number of reports received by the ICAC in the 2004 Legco election: 153