Patten praises success of voter drive

Catherine Ng

GOVERNOR Chris Patten said yesterday the voter campaign for the nine new functional constituencies was a success, even though less than 40 per cent of those eligible had registered.

Mr Patten told legislators the latest drive had added about 900,000 voters to the register, making the franchise for functional elections 14 times greater than the last Legislative Council poll in 1991.

A total of 71,325 voters were on the electoral roll for the functional constituencies in 1991.

'We'll have about a million people voting in those functional constituencies, maybe a few more, maybe a few less, and I hope it will be many more in functional constituency elections thereafter,' Mr Patten said at his monthly Legco question and answer session.

'At the end of polling day, 14 times as many people will have had a chance in 1995 of voting in functional constituencies as voted in 1991.

'I think that represents a considerable advance.' The voter registration exercise ended yesterday.

The nine new groups, which encompass all 2.7 million workers, is the cornerstone of Mr Patten's electoral reform package.

Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Nicholas Ng Wing-fui said the Government had done its best to get more voters on the register.

'The public should be able to get the message of the changes through our publicity programmes. And it is their responsibility to take further action to adjust themselves to the new system,' he said.

The final voter registration figure will be available by the middle of the month and the provisional register will be published on June 21.

The Hong Kong China News Agency yesterday blamed Mr Patten for the low voter response, saying people were not interested in the complex reform package.