Human rights group says verdict on poll's fairness will help restore faith, but DAB sees no need for foreign intervention Leading overseas human rights activists and politicians have been invited to monitor the Legislative Council election in light of recent allegations of political intimidation and a voter registration scam. The Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor is asking members of the European Parliament and Asian Network for Free Elections (Anfrel) to observe the September vote. The move, which has been welcomed by the pro-democracy camp, attracted criticism from government supporters who questioned the need to resort to 'foreigners' to determine the fairness of an election in Hong Kong. It is expected that Graham Watson, leader of the European Liberal Democrats and chairman of the European Parliament's Justice and Human Rights Committee, will head the delegation. Mr Watson led the delegations from the European Parliament which observed the Legco elections in 1998 and 2000. Formed in 1997, Anfrel is a Bangkok-based regional network of election monitoring and human rights organisations, It was established to ensure transparency and credibility of the electoral process in Asian countries. Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai yesterday confirmed that invitations had been sent to both groups and that replies were awaited. If the invitations are accepted, the two overseas delegations will join forces with the local human rights watchdog to monitor the election. Mr Law said the invitation was made not only to ensure a fair election, but also to help clear Hong Kong's international reputation following the recent departure of three popular talk-show hosts and the voter registration scam. 'In the past, we had efficient, impartial and clean elections ... but this time, there have been worries, especially [because of] the recent political intimidation,' Mr Law said. 'If the overseas observers find out that we have a clean and impartial election, it can clear our name.' Human Rights Monitor is compiling background reports for the delegations' visits, which would include material on the alleged recent incidents of political intimidation. Mr Law said it would arrange for the monitors to be present at polling stations, and arrange for them to meet the Electoral Affairs Commission, the media and academics. Democratic Party chairman Yeung Sum welcomed the move, saying it would improve Hong Kong's image. 'As there [have been] a series of rumours [about voting scandals] recently, it's good to have an independent monitoring body to observe the election,' Dr Yeung said. He added it was a common practice internationally for independent observers to monitor elections. But Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong chairman Ma Lik said it was meaningless to invite foreigners to prove that Hong Kong's election would be conducted in a fair, impartial and open manner. 'Why do we always have to invite foreigners to monitor what we are doing?' Mr Ma asked. He said the Electoral Affairs Commission and the Independent Commission Against Corruption were sufficient to monitor the election. The Beijing Liaison Office was not available for comment last night.