Further by-election delay unfair to Hong Kong voters

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 July, 2017, 9:03am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 July, 2017, 6:54pm

Way back in January, then secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen announced that by-elections for two vacant Legislative Council seats could not be held until August at the earliest because officials had to prepare for the chief executive election in March.

The public was later advised that the matter was awaiting the outcome of the Court of Final Appeal ruling in August.

As that date is approaching, we are now told that the election will not take place until legal proceedings related to the ousting of a further four legislators have reached a conclusion. This would be well into 2018.

The excuses for not proceeding with the by-election for the two vacant seats are quoted as saving expenditure and difficulties in finding locations for polling booths.

Well, we are not buying this. Billions of dollars have been allocated to cover cost overruns and delays of various infrastructure projects. There is no accounting for the costs of various scandals related to these projects such as the recent revelations about faked concrete test results and other failures to monitor expenditure.

Recently the administration spent HK$640 million on activities related to the 20th anniversary of the handover. Moreover it had no qualms about requisitioning facilities and closing roads to accommodate them. However, when it comes to the constitutional rights of voters to be represented in Legco, suddenly everything becomes difficult.

Then there is the matter of the missing voters’ data that we referred to in our letter (“By-election lag erodes rights of residents”, June 22). It is very strange that no progress has been made in identifying who stole two laptops containing the personal information of all 3.7 million of Hong Kong’s registered voters.

As we pointed out, it is only via an election that it can be established whether the theft was part of a plot to manipulate election results. The sooner we can monitor this, the better, and it would be easier to do so via an election for a small number of seats.

It is imperative that community anxieties with regard to the missing data be addressed. It is also unacceptable that the rights of thousands of voters to representation in Legco be further delayed. If a by-election for the two seats is required, then it must be scheduled shortly after the CFA ruling.

Paul Kumar, for Tsim Sha Tsui Residents’ Concern Group