Queensland surprised it has key vote
The Queensland government office in Hong Kong expressed surprise at news that it can help choose the committee that picks the next chief executive, with a spokeswoman saying the office 'has no interest in politics'.
The remarks came after the South China Morning Post reported yesterday that the office was among the 860 voters in the commercial (first) subsector of the committee, whose 18 delegates would be selected on Sunday's poll and could choose the city's chief executive on March 25.
'We are the trade and investment department for the Queensland government, but we have no interests in politics,' a spokeswoman for the office, located in Wan Chai, said yesterday. 'Perhaps we are a voter because we are a member of the [city's] General Chamber of Commerce.'
Under electoral rules, members of the chamber must register but are not automatically granted the right to vote. The office refused to say more about why it was on the list.
The other foreign body entitled to vote - the Austrian Chamber of Commerce - was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Election Affairs Commission Justice Barnabas Fung Wah said yesterday that an amendment to the electoral law last year barred foreign consulates and international bodies, under certain categories, from voting.
'Those bodies which enjoy consular protection would lose their voting rights under the latest amendment. Otherwise their voting eligibility would not be stripped,' said Fung.
He said the electoral office had verified the voting qualifications of non-local entities and assured that no ineligible bodies had voting rights.
Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the Legislative Council's constitutional affairs panel, which he chairs, should examine why foreign organisations still had voting rights.
Legislator Wong Kwok-kin said: 'Those groups should be kicked out of the register. If they exist, is it the government's negligence? I think they should have been eliminated from the list. It doesn't make sense.'
Democratic Party vice-chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing called on the government to explain the issue before Sunday's election.
'The small-circle [chief executive] election already lacks credibility ... This problem casts a bigger shadow over the whole [Election Committee subsector] election. It is terrible,' she said.
A close look at the subsector also found that major developers, including Cheung Kong Holdings and Sun Hung Kai, have more than 130 votes - out of 860 in the commercial subsector - through its conglomerate subsidiaries. Fung said those subsidiaries had registered to be voters in accordance with electoral rules.