Village's electoral register challenged

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 December, 2010, 12:00am

A village leader is challenging a decision to count 23 people he claims are not indigenous to the area as voters in the village for 2011 elections.

Ng Koon-fat, who represents Shek Lung Tsai village in Sai Kung, filed his application for a judicial review at the High Court last week.

He is asking the court to quash the decision, made by an electoral registration officer, to include the 23 people as part of the village and to declare that they are not indigenous inhabitants of Shek Lung Tsai.

The indigenous villagers of the settlement, which has a population of about 100, are all surnamed Ng, while the 23 in question include people surnamed Fung or people linked to those with that surname, according to the court writ.

The 23 people were earlier included in a provisional register of electors, a decision against which Ng protested but was ignored, leading to them being included as electors for the 2011 elections on the final register published in the Government Gazette in October.

In the writ, Ng argued that the 23 people's eligibility to vote in the village elections must be studied. He said they could dilute the voting power of genuine indigenous inhabitants and negatively affect the chances of winning of those qualified to stand for election. The issue also concerns respect for the village's heritage, Ng said.

'It matters a great deal to [Ng] and his fellow villagers in the Ng clan as to who can vote in the village representative election,' the writ said.

The 23, Ng claimed, were only interested in acquiring the traditional rights of indigenous inhabitants, which include the right to apply for a land grant, permission to build small houses on that land on concessionary terms, and to conduct burials near villages, something increasingly valuable.

Ng has been representing the village since 1999 and plans to run for re-election in 2011. Fung Tak-keung, one of the 23 in question, said he also intended to be a candidate in the upcoming election, the writ said.