Administration's Responses to Points raised
on 17 June 1999 by Members of the Bills Committee on
the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999

C1: The Administration has pointed out that the freedom of expression is a right guaranteed under the ICCPR. To be lawful, any restriction imposed on the protected freedom must be necessary and proportionate to the harm which it purportedly addresses. A member questions whether the overseas countries adopting the "no canvassing day" arrangement are aware of the above, and would also like to know whether any complaints have been lodged against the government for imposing the ban.

A1: Because of time constraint, we have been able to gather the following information about Japan, France and Singapore only :-


The purpose of adopting the "no canvassing day" arrangement is to prevent the financially more well-off candidates and political parties from launching aggressive electioneering campaigns on the election day and place the less well-off ones at a disadvantage. Moreover, it is also intended to avoid causing undue disturbance to the electors when they vote on the election day. We are not aware of any complaints lodged against adopting the arrangement.


France adopts the "no canvassing day" arrangement in order to avoid electors being directly influenced on the election day. We are not aware of any complaints lodged against adopting the arrangement.


As Singapore is not a signatory to the ICCPR, the issue in question is not relevant.

Having regard to the above information, members may note that the circumstances in Hong Kong are different from those in the above countries. Regarding the fairness of election, we have already set the election expenses limits to provide a level playing field for all candidates to compete. As regards avoiding disturbance to the electors, there are the "no canvassing area" and "no staying zone" arrangements which have worked well in past elections. On the point of influencing electors' choice of candidates, the above rationale is contrary to some members' view that electioneering activities will not affect electors' choice. We are therefore of the view that it is not necessary to designate the election day as a "no canvassing day" in Hong Kong.

In respect of members' suggestion to adopt the "no canvassing day" arrangement, we note that members' arguments for the arrangement are not the same as those held by the countries mentioned above. We would like to reiterate our views that if some candidates consider that there is no need to canvass votes on the election day (for reasons like canvassing activities on the election day should have no effect on electors' choice of candidates), they are free to decide not to put any resources into canvassing votes on the election day. We do not agree that all other candidates should be banned from carrying out canvassing activities simply because some candidates do not wish to carry out their own electioneering activities. Allowing candidates who consider it necessary to canvass votes on the election day to carry out canvassing activities according to their own need and in accordance with regulations and guidelines issued by the Electoral Affairs Commission is the reasonable and fair arrangement.

C2: To provide information on the respective methods used by the six designated religious bodies to nominate EC members.

A2: Item 3 of Table 3 in Schedule 2 to the Legislative Council Ordinance states that 40 members of the Election Committee are returned by the religious subsector. Part 2 of Schedule 2 provides for the nomination arrangements for the religious subsector. Section 2 of Schedule 2 provides that the religious subsector is composed of six designated religious bodies. The number of members to be returned by each of the bodies is determined by the Chief Executive in Council.

Section 3(1) of Schedule 2 provides that each designated body may nominate a number of persons selected by it as members representing the religious subsector. Each designated body can use a method that it considers appropriate to select its nominees. We understand that in the 1998 LegCo election, one of these six bodies (the Hong Kong Christian Council) selected its nominees by way of "one-person-one vote" election. The nominees of one body (the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong) were elected by the body's faithful divided into various groups. The remaining four bodies selected their nominees by internal consultation.

C3: To provide a copy of the letter from the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong to the Administration for members' reference.

A3: We have asked the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong to provide written comments on the proposed amendments as soon as possible. We will provide the Bills Committee with the comments once they have been received.

Constitutional Affairs Bureau
June 1999