Stripping second vote from two candidates 'against law'

A proposal in the Chief Executive Election Bill to strip one vote from two Election Committee members who are entitled to two violates the Basic Law, a legislator said yesterday.

Under the bill, the 800-member Election Committee will choose the next chief executive on March 28 next year.

There are six Election Committee members entitled to two votes.

Audrey Eu Yuet-mee and Lau Ping-cheung have one vote as legislators and one as subsector representatives of the legal and surveying professions respectively.

Ng Ching-fai, Yeung Yiu-chung, Philip Wong Yu-hong and Legco president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai have one vote as legislators and one as local National People's Congress deputies.

The Government has proposed that an Election Committee member will be deemed to have resigned his or her seat in the subsector on becoming an ex-officio voter. By-elections will be held to fill the seats.

Speaking at a Legco meeting on the bill, Mr Lau said the proposal would deprive him of his voting rights. 'The Basic Law says the committee's term of office is five years. But you now want to deprive me of the right to vote as a representative of my sector.'

He said it was unfair to ask Ms Eu and him to quit seats while the four legislators who were NPC local deputies were not affected.

Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung denied the proposal breached the Basic Law: '[Mr Lau's] concept is ambiguous. We are only asking him to give up one of his two seats. He is still an Election Committee member.'

But he said he would feel sorry if Mr Lau lost his Election Committee seat by losing in the next Legco election.

Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, said the Government was stirring up trouble. 'It is now a small circle fighting for [the interests of] another small circle.'

Democrat Cheung Man-kwong said it was unfair for any Election Committee member to have two votes. 'Six million Hong Kong people do not have the right to vote here. The Government is not fooling the subsectors but all Hong Kong residents,' he said.

Ms Eu said she did not mind giving up one seat.