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SCMA speaks to the media after LegCo Constitutional Affairs Panel meeting

     Following is a transcript of remarks (English portion) by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in response to media enquiries after attending the Legislative Council Constitutional Affairs Panel meeting today (November 21):

Reporter: What exactly is the Government going to do to follow up on the vote-rigging allegations put forward by local newspapers? Will you consider, for example, carrying out random inspections as suggested by some lawmakers?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: On each and every case received either through complaint channels or through other open channels such as news reports, the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) will follow up cautiously and in accordance with the law. If there is any slightest doubt about integrity being compromised, the REO will not hesitate to refer those cases to the Police for follow-up actions. According to the law, any false information, especially on the principal residential address, is a criminal offence and will cause level-two penalty as well. As far as the Government is concerned, we will take it very seriously and we will not let any criminal cases fall out.

     On a more systemic point, the REO will from time to time review the registration system. As I have said at the panel meeting just now, we will have a more thorough discussion next month to take into account public opinions, especially those from Legislative Councillors. If there is any area that our existing system would be able to be further improved, we will be more than happy to do so.

     You have mentioned random checking. As far as I know, for the existing procedures, if the REO detects any irregularities arising from application forms, they will take the initiative to follow up on each and every case. For random checking, that will be something that I am sure the REO will consider and I guess probably will be discussed at the panel meeting next month.

Reporter: But the newspaper is talking about a large-scale scheme conducted by a group of people or syndicate. How will your investigation head into that direction?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: I have no information about the allegation. As far as I know, the REO has so far received about 60,000 undeliverable poll cards. For each undeliverable poll card, the REO will follow up on each and every case to make sure that if electors have changed their principal residential addresses, they will have the opportunity to update them so that for the coming Legislative Council election, they will have the opportunity to be on the register and cast their votes next September. But of course, if during the process the REO should detect any irregularities or possible criminal offence, they will not hesitate to refer those cases to the Police for follow-up actions.

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

Ends/Monday, November 21, 2011