It's in the small print - a clarion call to vote
After the government had been accused for weeks of trying to discourage voters from joining Sunday's Legco by-elections, it has finally called on them to vote. You missed it? Well you should have read the small print. It's in the last paragraph of the poll cards sent to each voter in recent days to tell them where their polling station is. 'It is stated on the poll cards: 'Please exercise your civic rights and fulfil your civic responsibilities by casting your vote in the by-election',' a spokesman for the Registration and Electoral Office said, arguing more than HK$3 million had already been spent on election publicity. But why has Electoral Affairs Commission chairman Barnabas Fung Wah not been heard publicly calling on electors to vote, as he has in previous elections? 'The EAC chairman will speak to the media on the polling day on May 16 after visiting the polling stations,' the spokesman said. Better late than never. Isn't it?
Quick, get reading, there's only five days left
Political debate, being aimed at voting masses who don't usually understand the issues very well, seldom reaches great intellectual heights. But candidates who make specific assertions usually try to have some facts to back them up. Not so independent accounting worker Wong Hing, whose main purpose in standing against the Civic Party's Tanya Chan on Hong Kong Island seems to be to chastise her for abuse of process in resigning to cause the by-election and then standing in it. At an RTHK election forum yesterday, Chan challenged Wong to support his assertion that the Basic Law requires the preservation of functional constituencies, to which he replied: 'This is the second time you have [asked this]. As I said, my understanding of the Basic Law comes from newspapers and magazines. I can promise you that once I have read the Basic Law, I will definitely discuss this with you again.' Five days to go. Better do some quick reading, Mr Wong.
Pan-democrats brace for the big split
No matter how the votes pan out on Sunday, there are those who fear things will never be the same in the pan-democratic camp. One democrat, neither in the Civic Party nor the League of Social Democrats, said it could well be a day to remember. 'May 17 will most likely be a day when the pan-democratic camp formally splits,' the politician said, pointing to the long-standing row between the league, the party and their allies over how to fight for universal suffrage. 'Do you know how long the league has tried to keep a lid on its temper in order not to damage the election chances? There will be no more such need after the election.'
Legco president springs to pavilion's defence
On a hectic two-day visit to the World Expo in Shanghai, lawmakers have toured the pavilions of 11 of the exhibiting countries. While many delegates were critical of the Hong Kong pavilion, Legco president Tsang Yok-sing said yesterday that Hong Kong's work was no worse than others. 'The UK pavilion has no presentation of British history and culture, or the country's social and economic development. We went there and only saw some seeds,' he said. Dubbed the Seed Cathedral, the pavilion is built from 60,000 perspex rods each tipped with a seed to represent Britain's parks and countryside.