NEXT year's Legislative Council elections will be an important occasion for Hong Kong. It will be the last chance for voters to choose their representatives in the law-making body before the handover. Yet many potential voters who are living abroad will be deprived of that precious opportunity. Only residents away on temporary business will be eligible to vote by proxy. It would be a shame to disqualify residents solely because they are living overseas. Many countries, including Britain, allow their expatriates to vote in elections back home. Hong Kong should be no exception. An estimated 503,600 Hong Kong residents emigrated between 1980 and 1993. Many, of course, would be disqualified because they have secured the citizenship of another country. But surely, there are those who would welcome the opportunity to cast their ballot. Great care would have to be taken to ensure fraudulent practices are prevented, of course. But handled properly, the overseas elector could be a potent force in contributing to the democratic process in Hong Kong.