This note informs Members of the latest position of Village Representative (VR) elections.
For LegCo Panel on Home Affairs
VILLAGE REPRESENTATIVE ELECTIONS
2. Villages are part of the social structure of the rural community in the New Territories. VR elections are internal elections within the rural community. There are no legislative provisions or mandatory rules governing the conduct of elections. In the past, these elections were conducted by the villagers themselves in accordance with the established rural traditions.
3. In support of the Government's policy of encouraging fair and open elections, the Heung Yee Kuk promulgated a set of guidelines, or "Model Rules", for the conduct of VR elections in August 1994. These guidelines provide for, among other things, one-person-one-vote, equal voting rights for men and women and fixed four terms for the elected representatives. A copy of the "Model Rules" is attached at Annex for reference.
4. To respect the traditions, villagers have flexibility to adapt the rules in accordance with local customs so long as these rules are not in conflict with the "Model Rules" and with the principle to conduct fair and open elections.
The role of the Administration
5. Insofar as District Officers' (DOs) involvement is concerned, their role legally is confined to exercising the authority under section 3(3) of the Heung Yee Kuk Ordinance (Chapter 1097) of approving a person as VR and not exercising the authority if that person has been elected or otherwise chosen by a procedure in which women have not been able to participate on equal terms with men in accordance with the stipulation in section 35(5) of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Chapter 480).
6. To facilitate the organisation of VR elections, DOs provide administrative support to villagers by assisting with the preparation of the voter register, with posting notices advertising the election and with counting the votes cast. In fact, DOs' role is strictly supportive and ancillary.
7. With the co-operation of Heung Yee Kuk and its Rural Committees, to date, more than 95% of New Territories villages have re-elected their VRs on the basis of the one-person-one-vote system. The current terms of VRs will expire on 31 March 1999. Hence, villages are undergoing re-elections of VRs.
8. In compliance with the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, the Government will not recognise the status of any VRs who are not elected in accordance with the "Model Rules".
Home Affairs Department
2 February 1999