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SCA: Election conducted according to Hong Kong laws

Following is the transcript (English portion) of a standup briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, on issues related to the Legislative Council election this (September 14) evening:

SCA: In the last two days, there continues to be considerable media and public interest in matters relating to the Legislative Council election. Firstly, I would like to state that, according to reports, there are apparent discrepancies between the reported voter turnout figures and the actual number of votes counted in respect of a few functional constituencies. The Electoral Affairs Commission has invited colleagues of the Registration and Electoral Office to undertake a detailed examination of all 501 polling stations' ballot paper accounts and to ascertain whether these figures tally with the actual number of votes counted for these functional constituencies. I understand that the Electoral Affairs Commission will meet the media tomorrow to give a further account.

Secondly, as regards the decision to allow certain presiding officers to open ballot boxes and to ensure that there continues to be some space for ballots to be put in after the ballot boxes have been re-sealed, this decision was taken by the Electoral Affairs Commission according to its statutory powers. The decision was not taken, as suggested by one local newspaper, by the Constitutional Affairs Bureau. We do not have such a role, nor do we have such powers. The Electoral Affairs Commission will be meeting the media tomorrow, and I understand that they will elaborate further on the legal basis for taking this decision. The only involvement of my colleagues in this particular part of the action was that they rang some Returning Officers to advise them that the Electoral Affairs Commission had taken this decision.

Finally, I have taken note that there are some election agents who complained that they were invited to leave the polling station at 10.30pm. I understand that these complaints will be investigated thoroughly by the Electoral Affairs Commission, in the same way as they investigate all election-related complaints.

I would also like to take this opportunity to respond to a resolution passed by the US Congress regarding freedoms in Hong Kong. I would like to emphasise that freedoms and democracy in Hong Kong are protected by the Basic Law. I hope that foreign legislatures will continue to respect the principle that Hong Kong matters are for Hong Kong to manage in accordance with the Basic Law.

Reporter: (inaudible).

SCA: This year's Legislative Council election is very competitive, and (there was a) record number of candidates, also (a) record number of voters. These phenomena, I think, really mark the fact that Hong Kong's public is very keen in participating in this election. But where you have more competition, from time to time, you will have more friction. But the electoral complaints will be dealt with thoroughly and methodically by the Electoral Affairs Commission according to Hong Kong legislation.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Tuesday, September 14, 2004