Following is a transcript of remarks (English portion) made by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, after attending the Legislative Council meeting this afternoon:
Reporter: Please tell us what is being done now, and also you have said in a previous occasion that there is simply no such thing as "vote-rigging" in Hong Kong's law. So would you say that, if anyone is proved to have provided false information, you could only punish the individual instead of prevent large schemes of manipulation?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: That is not quite true. Under the current law of Hong Kong, of course there is no explicit term or no definition as you have just said, and I quote "vote-rigging", because under the current law, what is at stake or what is the matter of concern is whether anyone would forward false information and therefore would distort the existing election result, and that is the matter of concern to the authorities. So I have just mentioned that as at this morning, I understand from the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) that they have formally invoked the necessary procedures under the relevant legislation to issue a Letter of Inquiry to concerned voters, including the case that the media has expressed concern over in the past few days in Mei Foo. And in the same letter, the REO has requested necessary confirmation from the relevant voters that their only or principal residential address has not changed or has changed or otherwise, and at the same time to provide documentation proof of the authenticity of the address so provided.
The timing that the REO has imposed is that they should come back with the confirmation within a week's time. Based on the replies that the REO should receive, they would then consider whether they would refer such cases to the Police for follow-up action, in particular along the direction whether anyone has provided false information which has contravened the relevant electoral laws. At the same time the REO would, based on the information and their own investigation, see whether there is further case to refer such cases to the ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption). If someone has actually forwarded false information and at the same time has cast votes in the past District Council election, that will be something under the existing statute, and the REO will spare no efforts in pursuing that.
Reporter: If it is found that "vote-rigging" has occurred, will the election results still be valid?
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: That is not for me to say. We have current laws and relevant procedures to regulate our elections. At the moment, I am not in the position to speculate or comment further, especially when I have answered these gentlemen's questions a while ago, that since we have now entered into a formal inquiry stage, I would better reserve my comment until all relevant facts and information have been received.
(Please also refer to the Chinese transcript.)
Ends/Wednesday, November 23, 2011