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SCMA speaks to the media

     Following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, at a media session after attending the Legislative Council Constitutional Affairs Panel special meeting this morning (February 17):

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Yesterday the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) has started sending letters to all registered electors in Hong Kong. This letter will serve four purposes. First, the letter will inform the Geographic Constituency electors who are not registered in any Functional Constituency (FC) that they will be automatically registered in the new District Council (Second) FC (commonly known as the "super DC seats"). If they do not wish to be registered as such, they may contact the REO through various channels as mentioned in the letter.

     The second purpose is that apart from a few FCs, the letter will inform all the existing FC electors that they may choose to be registered in the new District (Second) FC instead of the traditional FC where they are currently registered in.

     The third function is that in response to public concern on the accuracy of the voter registers, we will make use of the same letter to remind electors that they should update their residential addresses if there are any changes.

     Fourthly, we have designed a special envelope for this letter. If any citizen received a letter that is not addressed to him/her, or his/her family members, or that there is no such addressee in this residence, we would like to appeal to the public to put a tick in the appropriate box on the envelope and return it to the REO through our postal service for follow-up.

     In order to widen the public acknowledgement of such action, we will launch the corresponding television and radio Announcement in the Public Interest to publicise this important message.

     On voter registration, we are now conducting a public consultation which will end on March 2. We will be reporting back to the Legislative Council on the further measures that we would like to take in light of the public opinions that we have received in March at the Legislative Council Constitutional Affairs Panel. Since the so called "vote-rigging saga" has begun several months ago, the REO has received complaints from various channels, including media reports, concerning about 9,300 electors. Among these, no follow-up action is required for around 2,200 electors because there is no prima facie irregularity or the complainants did not provide sufficient information for follow-up.

     For another 4,700, the REO has sent letters to them, requesting them to provide address proof. Depending on their response, we will take appropriate actions in accordance with the established legislative and statutory procedures. For the remaining 2,300, the REO will send letters to them to launch the same statutory procedures sometime next week.

     On the four administrative measures that we have launched since January this year, so far the REO has issued letters demanding address proof from all the addresses which have more than a certain number of electors or a certain number of surnames - that will be a "100 per cent" investigation. We have also launched a random check for around 3 to 5 per cent of all existing electors - that amounts to some 100,000 to 180,000 electors. Indeed, some of the people I know have also received this letter. Also, depending on their response for address proof, we would launch, if necessary, the statutory procedures. The worst case scenario is that their names will be removed from the final register and that they will not have the right to vote. So I would like to remind all those who have received this letter that they should respond as soon as possible in accordance with the requirement.

     Secondly, we would enhance publicity on the need to update the addresses and I have mentioned this special letter and envelope.

     Thirdly on the cross-matching with various departments, the REO will have 100 per cent cross-matching with the Housing Society and Housing Department tenants - that will be more than 100 tenants as well.

     Lastly, for the demolished buildings and buildings to be demolished, that would now involve some 600 electors and the REO will follow statutory procedures to ascertain the authenticity of the addresses as well. So that will be for the administrative measures. As for the further measures, we will decide in March and report back to the Legislative Council.

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

Ends/Friday, February 17, 2012