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Legislative Council elections 2016

Hong Kong lawmaker fears Beijing behind jump in voters in IT functional constituency

IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok notes that voter numbers are up 80 per cent – more than he expected

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 June, 2016, 5:54pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 June, 2016, 11:45pm

The lawmaker for information technology has expressed shock at a sharp rise in the number of registered voters in his functional constituency and questioned whether pro-Beijing forces were getting people to sign up.

The information technology constituency saw the biggest expansion in voter numbers – from 6,716 in 2012 to 12,046 this year – a rise of 79.4 per cent, according to provisional voter statistics ­released by the Registration and Electoral Office yesterday.

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The provisional data also showed those who plan to contest Legislative Council seats in the September elections will face more older voters.

For the 28 traditional trade-based functional constituencies, there are about 239,195 registered voters, a slight drop from about 240,735 in 2012.

The accountancy sector has 25,970 voters, 796 more compared with the 2012 figure.

Incumbent IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok described the sharp rise as “shocking” and claimed it added weight to a conspiracy theory that Beijing was ­orchestrating it behind the scene.

“This proves media reports that various trade organisations have tried to attract voters by ­reducing membership fees … It also proves that some functional constituencies, especially the professional sectors, are strongholds that Beijing’s liaison office wants to take [from pan-democrats],” Mok said.

Controversially, Mok and his fellow pan-democrats, who had in the past called for abolishing functional constituencies because they saw the system as ­undemocratic, have mobilised supporters to sign up as voters to secure sufficient seats to block government policy.

Mok said he had expected the voter number for his sector to rise to about 8,000.

For geographical constituencies, there are about 3.77 million voters, up 8.7 per cent from 2012.

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New Territories East and Kowloon West recorded the biggest increases of 11.1 per and 11 per cent respectively. The two constituencies have 971,961 and 486,354 ­registered voters respectively.

The proportion of voters aged 61 or above grew from 25.9 per cent of all voters to 29.2 per cent this year, while those aged 31 to 60 dropped slightly from 56.8 per cent in 2012 to 53.7 per cent.

The number of registered ­voters aged 66 to 70 increased by 60 per cent to 265,116 in 2016 from 165,172 in 2012.

While the proportion of voters aged 30 or under remained at 17.1 per cent,those aged between 18 and 20 shrank from 143,748 in 2012 to 122,947 in 2016.

Political commentator Dr Chung Kim-wah of Polytechnic University said: “In the face of more older voters, candidates may have to promote more conservative platforms. But younger candidates from the localist camp are not altogether without hope. They have many supporters among young adults in their 30s.”