Watchdog reports on by-elections

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 September, 2010, 12:00am

Almost four months after the Legco by-elections, the electoral watchdog has noted concerns that the decisions of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and his political appointees not to vote discouraged some people from voting.

But it said the decision of whether to vote or not - especially by civil servants - should be respected.

The by-elections were triggered by the resignations of five lawmakers, who hoped to turn the vote into a de facto referendum on the pace and scope of democratisation. In a report submitted to Tsang and made public yesterday, the Electoral Affairs Commission noted Hong Kong had no referendum mechanism.

Three lawmakers of the Civic Party and two from the League of Social Democrats resigned. The commission said: 'Some members of the public were of the view that as the aforesaid Legco members had deliberately triggered a territory-wide by-election ... their act was an abuse of the by-election mechanism and a waste of public funds.

'There were also voices in the community [saying] that the existing legislation which allowed the Legco members to resign and then stand for the subsequent by-election should be amended to forestall the recurrence of similar incidents.'

On the decisions of Tsang and his political appointees not to vote, the commission noted that there had been 'allegations' that their decisions 'might discourage' voters, in particular civil servants, from voting.

'It is, however, noteworthy that all registered electors, including civil servants, would decide on their own whether or not to vote in the by-election. The personal decision of each registered elector should be respected,' the report said.

A total of 687 complaints were received in the election period. The commission recorded 19,747 invalid votes, of which 14,807 were blank. Turnout was a record-low 17.19 per cent, with 579,795 votes cast.