Sha Tau Kok resident wins challenge on village poll

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 April, 2011, 12:00am


A by-election for a village in Sha Tau Kok is expected to be held in November after a resident won a judicial review challenging the results of the election held in January.

Luk Keng Chan Uk villager Chan Chi-shing, 76, successfully argued in the Court of First Instance that Chan Kwun-wah - who was elected as the village head - was not an eligible candidate because he was not an indigenous inhabitant. Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung also found that 116 electors - identified by Chan Chi-shing as ineligible to vote - were not indigenous inhabitants.

The judge commented that the strict timeframe set out in the Village Representative Election Ordinance was 'deficient and inadequate' as it may result in a long wait before a by-election could take place after a successful election petition.

However, it was unlikely to cause any real injustice or unnecessary delay in this case, he said. A by-election is likely to be held in November after an annual register of voters is to be compiled in October - as set out in the ordinance.

A spokeswoman for the Home Affairs Department did not confirm the date of a by-election but said that the department would study the judgment and seek legal advice before deciding how follow-up action should be taken.

In the village election, held on January 23, Chan Kwun-wah won with 171 votes while Chan Chi-shing got 69 votes. Nine months earlier, Chan Chi-shing had learned that the number of registered electors in 2009 was 396, and there were only 164 for the 2007 election. However, he was unsuccessful in seeking an injunction to halt the election.

Chan Chi-shing filed notices of objection to 120 registered electors, who were the respondents in an appeal heard before a returning officer. The judge yesterday quashed the decision of the returning officer, who ruled against Chan Chi-shing in the appeal over the electoral registration officer's decision to include the 116 people as voters.

The decision was wrong and unfair because of a mistake of fact, Au said. Relying on genealogies, Chan Chi-shing's lawyer Ronny Tong Ka-wah SC argued in the judicial review that the respondents could not have been indigenous inhabitants because the lineage was broken long ago.

The judge agreed. 'The respondents' own evidence adduced at the hearing also shows and supports that the respondents could not have descended from Yip Chung-gong and Yip Wai-gong as claimed,' he said.

He rejected Chan Kwun-wah's contention that a Chinese phrase found in the genealogies meant 'loss of record' or 'cannot be contacted' instead of 'no passing on of the lineage'.

Au also held that a computer genealogy and a handwritten one provided by Chan Kwun-wah were not credible evidence.

The ordinance provides that an election takes place once every four years. It specifies that the electoral registration officer should compile a provisional register of electors in August and a final register in October each year.