Police start probe into vote-rigging

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 November, 2011, 12:00am


Police have begun investigating 16 allegations of vote-rigging in the November 6 district council elections. The force may assign crime squad officers from various districts to the investigation, Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said.

If people used false details to register but did not vote, then the police would investigate, which might lead to arrests, Tsang said. If people registered with false details and did vote, such cases would be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) for prosecution.

The 16 allegations come mostly from West Kowloon and the northern New Territories.

'We want to complete the investigation as quickly as possible so Hongkongers can find out what is going on and be more confident with our electoral process,' Tsang said.

Lam Kin-man - a candidate for the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood who lost by two votes in the King's Park constituency in Yau Tsim Mong - lodged a complaint involving four cases with the Registration and Electoral Office yesterday. They involve an unusual number of people using the same address to register to vote.

Several other cases were unearthed last week by the media and political parties.

Lam said: 'If the question with the police investigation is if the voter really did vote, then wouldn't the Registration and Electoral Office be able to find that out fairly quickly? And if the police just refer the case to the ICAC then we might as well just file our complaints straight to the ICAC. Going through the police just seems to be overcomplicating the process and a waste of time.'

Time is of the essence. According to the Electoral Affairs Commission Ordinance, a candidate must file a petition questioning the results with the Court of First Instance within two months of the results being published in the government gazette - November 10 - or the election results will stand as they are.

Helena Wong Pik-wan - a Democratic Party candidate who lost in the Whampoa East constituency - will file a vote-rigging complaint soon.

'If the police say they are going to investigate, I hope they will really do so and are not just saying it to entertain us, because that's what the government has done in the past,' she said.

'I'm fairly certain some of these votes were planted in the last election four years ago, and complaints were filed but nothing was done and people think they can get away with it. This is why the vote-rigging has become more severe now.'

Wong said the three governing bodies - the Registration and Electoral Office, the police and the ICAC - should negotiate their responsibilities so the complaints can be dealt with directly and efficiently.

She also said some of the vote-rigging cases may not be obvious, and the government should pick out samples from constituencies to detect vote-rigging instead of relying on complaints for leads.