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LC: Motion to amend the Particulars Relating to Candidates on Ballot Papers (Legislative Council) Regulation

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, on the motion to amend the Particulars Relating to Candidates on Ballot Papers (Legislative Council) Regulation at the Legislative Council today (February 4) (translation):

Madam President,

I move that the Particulars Relating to Candidates on Ballot Papers (Legislative Council) Regulation be amended as set out in the Agenda.

The purpose of this Regulation, which was made by the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC), is to allow particulars of candidates to be printed on the ballot paper so as to facilitate identification of candidates by electors when casting their votes. These particulars include:

(i) personal photographs of candidates;
(ii) emblems of candidates and their supporting bodies; and
(iii) names or abbreviated names of candidates' supporting bodies.

This Regulation was laid on the table of the Legislative Council on December 17, 2003. A subcommittee was subsequently formed by the Council to examine the Regulation. The Subcommittee has now completed its scrutiny of this Regulation.

In the course of its deliberation, the Subcommittee expressed its support for the policy objectives underlying the Regulation. However, the Subcommittee also made several comments on the detailed arrangements. These include the suggestion to extend the deadline for applications for registration, and the suggestion to allow each candidate or candidate list to have the names or abbreviated names of up to three bodies, and the emblems of up to three bodies or candidates, to be printed on the ballot paper. After careful consideration by the EAC, these suggestions were accepted. The Administration now proposes to amend the relevant provisions. In addition, since there is room for further improvement in drafting and presentation as regards certain aspects of the provisions, we also propose to make technical amendments to improve the clarity of these provisions.

When scrutinising the Regulation, the Subcommittee made a number of suggestions regarding the design of the ballot paper, including the suggestion that candidates may choose to print group photographs on the ballot paper. We have conveyed this suggestion to the EAC. After careful consideration, the EAC reaffirmed that only standard-sized personal photographs should be printed, since they could best facilitate electors to identify the candidates. As to other views of the Subcommittee on the design of the ballot paper, they have also been referred to the EAC. The EAC will carefully consider these views when finalising the design of the ballot paper.

All the proposed amendments that I set out in the Agenda have been endorsed by the Subcommittee. I would like to sincerely thank the Hon Hui Cheung-ching, the Subcommittee Chairman, and the other Members of the Subcommittee for the valuable comments they made during the scrutiny process.

Thank you, Madam President.

Ends/Wednesday, February 4, 2004