By-election curbs may apply to all lawmakers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 January, 2012, 12:00am


The government is considering including functional constituencies under a proposal to ban lawmakers from standing in by-elections after they resign their seats.

Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, says the proposal - one of four options in a public consultation paper released in July - has gained the most support from the public.

'Although it is rather unlikely that we would see lawmakers in the traditional functional constituencies resign to trigger by-elections, as happened two years ago [in the five geographical constituencies], we cannot completely rule out this possibility,' Tam said.

'In terms of consistency in policy, if we don't take this step [apply the rule to all lawmakers], it would seem inconsistent. Although the chances of it happening are very slim, it is worth considering covering them in our policy.'

Tam said the government would soon release a report on the two-month public consultation about reforming the system in which vacated seats are filled in the Legislative Council.

The public, he said, took the view that lawmakers who quit should be barred from standing again for only a few months, instead of the full duration of the term to which they were elected.

The government plans to amend the law on this matter during the current legislative session ending in July, according to Tam.

However, the timing depends on the public's acceptance of the proposed ban and lawmakers' passage of the bill.

There will be 70 lawmakers in the next four-year Legco term, which starts in October - 10 more than the present number.

Half will be in geographical constituencies and half in functional constituencies.

Five new district council functional constituency seats will be up for election this year by voters who are not entitled to vote in the traditional functional constituencies.