LC paper No. CB(2)1658/98-99(03)
Administration's Response to Points raised on 15 March 1999 by
Members of the Bill Committee on
Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999
||To consider a Member's suggestion to set up polling stations in public hospitals, and to provide information on (i) the number of public hospitals; (ii) the number of patients in each of these hospitals; and (iii) the expenditure for setting up polling stations in these hospitals.
|A1 :||We have carefully considered the suggestion of setting up mobile polling stations in public hospitals. We conclude that there are a lot of problems to be considered in implementing the suggestion, and that the proposal might not be able to benefit each and every needy elector. The most crucial problem lies with the difficulty in compiling the relevant extracts of voter register for the mobile polling stations. As we will not know which elector will be in the hospitals on polling day, we cannot compile in advance the relevant extracts of voter registers for the polling staff in the mobile polling stations to check whether an elector is eligible to vote. We therefore cannot prevent double voting by the electors and uphold the integrity and cleanliness of the electoral process. Moreover, if the polling staff is to collect votes direct from electors in bed, it will be more difficult to safeguard the secrecy of votes and worse still, disrupt the daily operation of the hospitals concerned. If electors are asked to vote at specific mobile polling stations, bedridden electors will not benefit from the arrangement and the operation of the relevant hospitals might also be affected.
In addition, we are of the view that it is unreasonable to provide the mobile polling facility only to electors in public hospitals (and not those in private hospitals and institutions for the aged) if the suggestion is implemented. However, if the facility is to be provided to all electors mentioned above, significant financial and staffing resources will be required. There will also be implications on the manpower arrangement on polling day. In view of the above, we will not consider the suggestion at the present stage. As to Members' request for information, the following is provided for reference :-
(i) number of public hospitals : 42
(ii) number of beds in each hospital : see Annex I
(iii) cost for setting up a mobile polling station in a public hospital : Around $50,000 to $60,000, which includes honorarium for polling staff, transportation costs and costs for various furniture and equipment required for polling purposes.
|C2 :||On composition of the Heung Yee Kuk FC, to advise the method for the selection/election of the Ex-Officio, Special and Co-opted Councillors of the Full Council of the Kuk, and whether their terms of office would affect their eligibility to vote in the FC election.
|A2 : ||The constitution of the Heung Yee Kuk and its Full Council is set out in the note at Annex II.
Section 25 of the existing Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) specifies the eligibility for registration as electors for functional constituencies. Under this section, a person is eligible to be registered as an elector for the Heung Yee Kuk Functional Constituency only if he is the Chairman or Vice-Chairmen of the Heung Yee Kuk, or an Ex Officio, Special or Co-opted Councillor of the Full Council of the Heung Yee Kuk. If a registered elector has ceased to be any of these persons (for example, after the expiration of his term of office in the Heung Yee Kuk), he will lose his eligibility to be registered as an elector for the Heung Yee Kuk Functional Constituency.
Section 53 of the Legislative Council Ordinance specifies the circumstances in which an elector is disqualified from voting at an election. In the case of the Heung Yee Kuk Functional Constituency, a registered elector for this Functional Constituency is disqualified from voting at this Functional Constituency election if he has ceased to be any of the persons mentioned above.
||On composition of the Agriculture and Fisheries FC, to advise -|
(i) the nature of the corporate members of the bodies listed in clause 13, i.e. whether they are company members or individual members; and
(ii) whether any of the bodies named in Schedule 1 have any corporate members and if so, whether these corporate members should be given equal voting right as the corporate members of the bodies listed in clause 13.
||(i) All members of the Federations named in new section 20B(a)(i), (ii), and (v) to (viii) under clause 13 are co-operative societies registered by the Agriculture and Fisheries Department under the Co-operative Societies Ordinance (Cap. 33). The majority of the members of the bodies named in new section 20B(a)(iii) and (iv) are societies registered under the Societies Ordinance (Cap. 151), and only one of them is registered in the form of a limited company. These bodies are representative associations of the agriculture and fisheries sectors and are not commercial enterprises.
(ii) As far as we know, none of the bodies named in new Schedule 1 bearing the name
have any corporate members.
||To consider listing the electorates of all FCs in the Bill so that any subsequent amendments will be subject to LegCo's approval.
|A4 :||We do not propose to list the electorates of all functional constituencies by name in the Legislative Council Ordinance. The present arrangement about the delineation of the electorates for functional constituencies has been adopted since the functional constituencies system was introduced. The organizations whose members are eligible electors are established and representative organizations in their respective sectors (such as The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, The Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, and The Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong).
There are at present more than 230,000 registered functional constituency electors, of which over 13,000 are corporate electors. Of these corporate electors, only about 340 are listed by name. The remaining derive their eligibility by virtue of their membership in umbrella organizations. Practically, apart from the few functional constituencies with smaller electorates, it is very unwieldy to list out all eligible electors for all functional constituencies by name.
Both the existing Ordinance and the Bill contain sufficient provisions which aim at ensuring that only individuals or bodies which have clear connections with the relevant functional constituencies are eligible to be registered as functional constituencies electors. For instance, section 25(5) of the Ordinance applies the "12-month rule" to corporate bodies which derive their eligibility from membership in umbrella organizations. Similarly, section 25(6) applies the rule to individuals who derive their eligibility from membership in representative organizations. Furthermore, section 1 of Part 4 of Schedule 1 to the existing Ordinance (reproduced with modifications under clause 2(c) of the Bill) seeks to prevent these umbrella and representative organizations from expanding the size of electorates or severing their link with the respective functional constituencies by amending their constitutions without Government's approval. We believe that there are already sufficient provisions to ensure that only persons or bodies which have a clear connection with a functional constituency are eligible to be registered as functional constituency electors.
||To consider including in the Bill provisions for the Government and the bodies concerned to verify compliance of the 12-month requirement applicable to a corporate elector under section 25(5) of the Legislative Council Ordinance.
||The Electoral Affairs Commission (Registration) (Electors for Functional Constituencies) (Voters for Subsectors) (Members of Election Committee) (Legislative Council) Regulation (Cap. 541, sub. leg.) ("the Regulation") already contains provisions requiring the bodies concerned to provide information on their membership. Section 9 of the Regulation empowers the Electoral Registration Officer to require information from a body, a public authority or any other person to provide information (including information on the members of a body and the period for which a member has had membership) for the purposes of compiling a functional constituencies register. Section 42 of the Regulation states that any person who makes any statement which he knows to be false in a material particular or recklessly makes any statement which is incorrect in a material particular or knowingly omits any material particular in his response to a request for information made by the Electoral Registration Officer under section 9 commits an offence. Such a person is liable to a fine at level 2 and to imprisonment for six months.
The present registration system of electors is transparent and has been operating effectively. Section 32 of the Legislative Council Ordinance requires the Electoral Registration Officer to compile and publish a provisional register of functional constituencies every year before he publishes a final register. The Electoral Registration Office must make available this provisional register for public inspection in accordance with section 29 of the Regulation. Any person who considers that a registered person in the provisional register is not eligible to be registered may, in accordance with section 30 of the Regulation, object to the registration of that person in the final register. This kind of objections are heard by a Revising Officer, who is a magistrate or a legal officer appointed by the Chief Justice under section 77 of the Legislative Council Ordinance. The decision of the Revising Officers on these objections is final. Furthermore, a person or a body applying for registration as an elector for a functional constituency has to declare in the application form that he or it is eligible to be registered as such an elector. Section 42 of the Regulation also applies to applicants for registration.
We therefore believe that there are already sufficient provisions to ensure that only bodies who are truly eligible for registration as electors in the functional constituencies are registered.
Constitutional Affairs Bureau
Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999
Constitution of the Heung Yee Kuk
Under the existing Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542), the Heung Yee Kuk Functional Constituency is composed of the Chairman and Vice-Chairmen of the Kuk, and the Ex Officio, Special and Co-opted Councillors of the Full Council of the Kuk. The Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999 does not seek to make any change to the composition of the Heung Yee Kuk Functional Constituency.
Constitution of the Heung Yee Kuk
2. The Heung Yee Kuk Ordinance (Cap. 1097) ("the Ordinance") provides for, among other things, the constitution of the Heung Yee Kuk ("the Kuk") and its Full Council. The relevant provisions of the Ordinance are set out below.
3. Section 3 of the Ordinance provides for the establishment of the Full Council. It specifies that the Full Council shall consist of Ex Officio Councillors, Special Councillors and Co-opted Councillors. Ex Officio Councillors are the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of Rural Committees and New Territories Justices of the Peace. Special Councillors, the number of which shall not exceed 21, are elected by the Ex Officio Councillors of the Tai Po, Yuen Long and Southern Districts from among Village Representatives or other persons approved by the Secretary for Home Affairs. Co-opted Councillors are persons nominated by five members of the Executive Committee, one of whom must be the Chairman or a Vice-Chairman. Nominated candidates must be approved by the Secretary for Home Affairs and confirmed by the Full Council. The number of Co-opted Councillors shall not exceed 15.
Constitutional Affairs Bureau