Political groups ferry elderly and disabled to HK polling stations

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 September, 2012, 4:20am

Elections are a powerful driving force for people to exercise their hard-fought right to vote - but there are always those who need to be driven.

Such was the case yesterday with groups affiliated to pro-government candidates offering free rides to the polling booths to elderly people, the disabled and villagers in remote areas.

Strictly speaking, this goes against the Elections Ordinance, which says "a person engages in corrupt conduct at an election if he offers an advantage to another person as an inducement to vote at the election for a particular candidate".

But that didn't stop coaches and taxis being hired to transport voters, while there were plenty of private cars used to carry people to and from various polling stations in Kowloon West and New Territories West.

Some even travelled in luxury, with a Mercedes Benz ferrying elderly people from Sheung Lok House on the Sheung Lok Estate in Ho Man Tin to a nearby polling station at Ho Man Tin Government Secondary School.

"The car was arranged by the residents' committee," said a 69-year-old passenger, who declined to be named as he waited to be picked up at a sitting-out area on the estate yesterday afternoon. The driver said he was helping his friend, who was the chairman of the committee, to take the elderly to the polling station. "It's very difficult for them to walk on a scorching summer's day," he said.

A residents' committee volunteer spoke to the people waiting to get into the car. "If you support Mr Cheng, you may want to cast your ballot for candidate No8 … but of course you have the right to vote for whoever you want," he said, referring to Dr Cheng Lee-ming, the Ho Man Tin district councillor.

The volunteer added: "We will organise another picnic soon … visiting the Heritage 1881."

Cheng could not be reached for comment.

In Wang Toi Shan Shan Tsuen, Yuen Long, private cars ferried voters to and from the polling station at the former Toi Shan Public School.

One campaigner wearing the colours of the pro-government New Territories Association of Societies brought a disabled villager to vote in a car that had Hong Kong and mainland number plates. He said: "We were just trying to help voters in need."

New Territories taxis bearing a candidate's number brought voters to a polling station in Shung Ching San Tsuen.

Meanwhile, four voters called police when they were told other people had voted with their identities. The cases involved four polling stations in Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan and Tseung Kwan O. Officers said their identity cards had not been stolen or lost.