Following is a question by the Hon Martin Lee and an oral reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 21):
Regarding the District Council (DC) election on November 18 and the ongoing Legislative Council (LegCo) Hong Kong Island geographical constituency by-election, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) given that some DC election candidates have printed on their promotion banners and leaflets their photos taken with Principal Officials (POs), whether the Chief Executive (CE) and POs have authorised any candidates to do so; if they have, of the list of candidates who have been authorised; if not, whether it will draw up measures to prevent candidates from misleading, by so doing, members of the public into thinking that they have the backing of POs to stand for the election;
(b) whether the CE and the POs have participated in any candidate's electioneering activities during the DC election and since the beginning of the LegCo by-election nomination period; if they have, of the details; and
(c) of the number of LegCo by-election candidates who have requested to meet with POs so far and whether they have all been received by the officials concerned; if not, of the reasons for that?
(a) The Chief Executive (CE) and the Principal Officials (POs) have not given consent to any candidate running for the 2007 District Council (DC) election or the Legislative Council Hong Kong Island geographical constituency by-election (the LegCo by-election) to use their pictorial representation as an indication of their support for the purpose of promoting the candidate’s election.
There are detailed provisions in the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance (Cap. 554) regarding the use of pictorial representation of a person in election advertisement. Under section 27 of the Ordinance, any candidate who publishes, or authorises the publication of, an election advertisement that includes a pictorial representation of a person in such a way as to imply, or to be likely to cause electors to believe, that the candidate has the support of the person, engages in illegal conduct at an election, unless the person has consented in writing to the inclusion of the pictorial representation before the publication of the election advertisement.
This issue is also elaborated in the Guidelines on Election-related Activities. For example, under paragraph 17.10 of the Guidelines on Election-related Activities in respect of the District Council Election, to minimise misunderstanding, if an election advertisement carries a photograph of the candidate attending an activity with other attendees, a caption specifying the particular nature of the event could be added underneath the photograph in such a way that will not imply, or likely cause electors to believe, that the candidate has the support of the other people appearing in the photograph. If the photograph is likely to cause electors to believe that the candidate has the support of the other people appearing in the photograph, it is advisable that prior written consent of support should be obtained by the candidate.
In planning their election advertisements, candidates should follow the above-mentioned legislation and guidelines. Any person who is of the view that the Guidelines on Election-related Activities or the electoral legislation have been breached may lodge a complaint with the Electoral Affairs Commission or the relevant authorities.
(b) The CE and the POs have not participated in the electioneering activities of any candidate running for the 2007 DC election or the LegCo by-election.
(c) Regarding the requests of LegCo by-election candidates to meet with the POs, the Government considers that such meetings, if held, would be part of the POs' engagement with the public. We have already made it clear that we will ensure parity of treatment for all candidates in the by-election. If the schedules of the POs permit, meetings with the candidates could be arranged. To ensure equal treatment, POs who decide to meet with a candidate should also accede to similar requests from other candidates in the by-election.
Ends/Wednesday, November 21, 2007