LC Paper No. CB(2)1658/98-99(05)
The Bills Committee on the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999 has invited the public to give their views on the Bill on 26 and 30 March 1999. The Clerk to Bills Committee has forwarded 22 written submissions to the Administration for consideration. After carefully studying the views in the submissions, we set out our responses below :-
||All LegCo seats should be directly elected.|
|A1 :||The Basic Law has set out the blueprint of democratic development for Hong Kong. In accordance with the Basic Law, the number of geographical seats will increase gradually : from 20 to 24 in 2000, and to 30 in 2004. The ultimate aim is the election of all LegCo Members by universal suffrage. The Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999 is drafted based on the above provisions.|
||The "single-seat-single-vote" system should be adopted in the LegCo geographical elections.|
||As we pointed out in 1997 when we proposed to adopt the proportional representation system in the first LegCo geographical elections, the proportional representation system can more accurately reflect voter preference in terms of allocation of seats than the "single-seat-single-vote" system which works on a "winner-take-all" principle. The proportional representation system is widely accepted as open and fair, and is adopted by many countries including Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Finland. Moreover, the number of geographical seats will increase gradually in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law. Adoption of the proportional representation system which allows for multi-seat constituencies will obviate the need for major amendment to the constituency boundaries before every election. After the 1998 LegCo election, the proportional representation system is already familiar to and accepted by the Hong Kong people. The arrangement has also worked well. We therefore propose to adopt the same system for the 2000 LegCo election.
||The LegCo Members should be selected or appointed from representative voluntary workers.|
|A3 : ||According to the Basic Law, the LegCo shall be constituted by election. Any person who is eligible for nomination as a candidate under the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) can stand in the LegCo election. As regards the remuneration and allowances of the Members, it is recognised that work on the legislature is a form of service to the public. Members should be remunerated in recognition of the time and effort they contribute to the legislature, and be given sufficient financial assistance to pay for staff and office expenses concerned. They should therefore be given appropriate remuneration and allowances.|
|V4 :||The election day should be set as the "cooling-off period" and all canvassing activities on that day should be banned.|
|A4 :||We are of the view that candidates should be allowed to choose, according to their own need, when and how to carry out canvassing activities, provided such activities would not undermine the fairness of the election and cause undue disturbance to the electors. Experience of past elections shows that canvassing activities are generally carried out in an orderly and controlled manner, and we do not consider that there is a need to legislate against all canvassing activities on polling day. Prohibiting candidates and their supporters will also have an adverse effect on both the election atmosphere on polling day and the voter turnout. In fact, public views are divided on this issue. There are also views in the submissions received in this consultation exercise which object to setting the election day as cooling-off period. We consider that the present arrangement should continue to apply in the second LegCo election.|
||Candidates who obtain a certain percentage of votes should have part of their election expenses reimbursed.|
|A5 :||As we pointed out in the meetings of the Bills Committee of the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999, the Government has provided considerable subsidies in kind to candidates running in the LegCo elections. These included providing two rounds of free mailing service for candidates to send election pamphlets to the electors; RTHK to produce a series of publicity programmes for candidates to introduce their election platforms on TV and radio, and organise election forums for candidates to debate on various topical issues; the Government to produce leaflets introducing the candidates etc.. In view of the various subsidies in kind above, we do not consider that there is a need to further subsidize candidates in their campaigning activities with additional public funds.|
||To prevent candidates from gaining unfair advantages, candidates should be legally banned from bringing legal proceedings in their own names and if the legal proceedings have been brought, be required to terminate or withdraw the proceedings during the election period. Any advantage thus gained must be accounted for as election expenses.|
||Under the existing Corrupt and Illegal Practices Ordinance (Cap. 288), any expenses incurred by a candidate and by any other person on the candidate's behalf on account of or in respect of the conduct or management of that election, or for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of that candidate at that election should be accounted for as election expenses. Moreover, in order to provide a level playing field for the candidates to contest, the Electoral Affairs Commission has, in its existing guidelines on election-related activities, requested the mass media to give equal and fair treatment to all candidates. If the Commission comes to know any breach of the guidelines, it may make a reprimand or censure in a public statement which may include the names of the candidates favourably and unfavourably treated and the broadcaster or publisher concerned. We are of the view that the existing arrangements are sufficient to ensure that candidates are competiting on a level playing field.|
||To respond to public submissions concerning the delineation of FC electorates and the establishment of new FCs.|
|A7 :||Please see Annex.|
|V8 :||To advise whether the Administration has given any reply to the Fresh Fruit Transportation Association explaining the reasons for not acceding to its request for inclusion in the Transport Functional Constituency.|
||In response to the Consultation Document on the Delineation of the Electorate for the New Functional Constituencies and the Election Committee for the First Legislative Council Election of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Fresh Fruit Transportation Association ("the Association") sent us a written submission on 31 July 1997. Upon receipt of the submission, we informed the Association in writing that we would take into account its views when deciding on the policy on the delineation of electorates for functional constituencies. The Legislative Council Bill, published in the Gazette on 15 August 1997 and introduced into the Provisional LegCo on 20 August 1997, reflected our policy. We considered that there was no need to inform the Association and other bodies or persons who had submitted views on the Consultation Document individually of our decision.
The Association also mentioned in its letter to the Clerk to the Bills Committee that it sent us another letter on 3 April 1998. We have not received such a letter before, and, upon notice by the Clerk, had informed the Association accordingly before the hearing by the Bills Committee held on 26 March.
We are now considering the Association's request for inclusion as an elector in the Transport Functional Constituency.
||To advise the method adopted by corporate electors of the Transport Functional Constituency to decide how to cast their votes at the functional constituency election.|
||Section 26 of the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) states that a corporate elector for a functional constituency is required to select one person to be its authorized representative for the purposes of casting its vote at an election. In order to be qualified for appointment as an authorized representative, a person should be a registered geographical constituency elector (or is an eligible geographical constituency elector and has made a registration application), has a substantial connection with the corporate elector, is not registered as an individual elector for the same functional constituency, and is not disqualified from being registered or voting under section 31 or 53 of the Legislative Council Ordinance. We consider that given that the nature and mode of internal organization of each corporate elector are different, it is not appropriate nor possible to specify in the Legislative Council Ordinance how a corporate elector should select its authorized representative or decide how to cast its vote. As the issue is wholly an internal matter for individual corporate electors, we do not have any information as to the method adopted by corporate electors of the Transport Functional Constituency to decide how to cast their votes.|