Administration's Response to Concerns raised on 22 September 1999
by Members of the Bills Committee
on Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Bill

C1: In relation to clause 15, the Administration is requested to provide statistics, if any, on the following and how such cases would be handled -

(a)complaints about an elector being given a ballot paper of another elector, inadvertently or intentionally, by the polling staff; and

(b)cases of an elector voting on behalf of another elector.

A1:(a) In the 1998 LegCo election, there were four complaints in which the electors complained that when they went to vote at the polling stations, they were told by the polling staff that ballot papers had already been issued under their names. As a result, these electors were issued with ballot papers stamped with the word "tendered" which would not be counted. After investigation by the Electoral Affairs Commission, there was no evidence that the polling staff concerned had made any mistake. We do not have such specific statistic for the 1995 LegCo election and the 1994 DB election.

(b) According to available information, the ICAC received one complaint of impersonating an elector in the 1994 DB election, but it was not substantiated. The ICAC did not receive any such complaint in the 1998 and 1995 LegCo elections.

C2: In relation to clause 17(d), some members question whether the phrase "then in use at the election" covers any period after declaration of the result of the poll. A member considers that the phrase may be deleted, in view of the reference to "at an election" at the beginning of clause 17(1). The Administration is requested to reconsider the drafting of the clause.

A2: To address Members' concern, we will put forward an amendment to clarify that ballot papers are to be protected before, during and after the election until they are properly disposed of in accordance with the relevant regulation made by EAC. We will provide details of the amendment to the Committee as soon as practicable.

C3: The Administration is requested to respond to some members' view that the limit of donation for the purpose of clause 19(1) should be raised from "$500 or more" to "more than $1,000".

A3: We are considering this matter and would like to hear the views of the Committee.

C4: Members are concerned about the practical difficulties for a candidate raising fund in public for the purpose of an election to comply with the requirement under clause 19(1). The Administration is requested to consider redrafting the clause to the effect that the responsibility of the candidate is discharged so long as the receipt for the donation is prepared on the basis of the information supplied by the donor.

A4: To address Members' concern, we propose to amend the last sentence of clause 19(1) to "The receipt must specify the name and address of the donor as supplied by the donor."

C5: On clause 19(2), the Administration is requested to consider whether the word "identity" should be replaced by "name and address" to be consistent with clause 19(1).

A5: We will replace the word "identity" with "name and address" in clause 19(2) to make it consistent with the wordings in clause 19(1).

C6: Members also point out the practical difficulties for a candidate to decide how any unspent election donation should be returned to the donors, for example, whether such amount should be returned to all known donors on a pro-rata basis or in the order of receipt of the donation by the candidate. The Administration is requested to respond to this concern and to consider the proposal that any unused donation should simply be given to a charitable institution or trust of a public character.

A6: The purpose of clause 19 is to ensure transparency of election donations and that a candidate will not keep any unspent donation for personal gain. As the donation is given to a candidate voluntarily by a donor, the donor should not be deprived of his right of taking back any unspent amount if he so wishes. Hence, we consider it appropriate to stipulate that any unspent amount of donation should be returned to the donor if he has made such an instruction when giving the donation to a candidate. If a donor has not given any such instruction or if the donor is unknown, the amount involved should be given to a charitable organisation. We will make necessary amendments to clause 19 in order to reflect this policy intent clearly.

Constitutional Affairs Bureau
4 October 1999