Delaying Legco by-elections until August is unacceptable

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 January, 2017, 4:54pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 January, 2017, 11:17pm

I heard Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen on news reports on RTHK on Sunday, saying that the by-elections for the two vacant Legislative Council seats could not be held until August at the earliest.

As his reason for this delay, he cited the fact that officials were busy preparing for the chief executive election in March.

The NGO, Tsim Sha Tsui Residents Concern Group, does not think this is acceptable, as the more complicated, time-consuming aspect of that election, that is, voting for the people who will comprise the Election Committee, has been completed.

The chief executive election is a small-circle affair with about 1,200 eligible voters.  It will take place in a single venue and each participant has only one vote to cast. 

In a city like Hong Kong that hosts large trade fairs and numerous conferences every year, the organisation of such an event is small potatoes.

If the government finds the arrangements too onerous, it can always contract them out to one of the many events organisers that are more than capable of handling such a formulaic occasion.

The government acted quickly to disqualify two legislators.  It should demonstrate that it had no hidden agenda, such as reducing the number of opposition lawmakers, by ensuring that their replacements are voted in as soon as possible.

To say that elections will not take place until August is outrageous.  Legco will be on its summer break.   

This would leave the two constituencies, Kowloon West and New Territories East, short of one legislator for a full year out of a four-year term.

Mr Tam said it is not so easy to arrange the venues needed for Legco elections. 

Our local polling station was in Kowloon Park, and it would be better that the election be held early in the year before crowds pour in when the outdoor swimming pools reopen. We are sure other polling stations would be available. The arrangements are less complicated than for a full Legco election.

We trust that voters in New Territories East will join with those in Kowloon West to protest over the delay in holding the elections and argue it is unwarranted and in contravention of our right to full representation in Legco.

Paul Kumar, for Tsim Sha Tsui Residents Concern Group