Following is the speech (English translation) by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in moving the second reading of the Electoral Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2012 in the Legislative Council meeting today (February 8):
Acting Madam President,
I move the Second Reading of the Electoral Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2012 (the Bill).
The Bill amends various pieces of legislation to introduce amendments to the regulatory regime of election advertisements (EAs); to introduce amendments relating to organisations which are constituents of several functional constituencies (FCs) of the Legislative Council (LegCo) or subsectors of the Election Committee (EC); to improve the electoral procedures for various elections; to provide for the counting arrangements for the District Council (second) functional constituency (DC (second) FC); to make technical amendments to the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance (ECICO); and to make related and incidental amendments.
Regulation of EAs
Under the proposed arrangements for EAs, a candidate can post his EAs onto a central portal maintained by the Registration and Electoral Office or an election website maintained by the candidate for public inspection within one working day after the publication of the EAs. Compared with the existing arrangements which require a candidate to make a declaration and submission of EAs to the Returning Officer before publishing the EAs, the proposal will as a result greatly simplify the arrangements for regulating EAs.
In addition, the proposal set out in the Bill simplifies the arrangements for handling the consent of support in EAs. Under the proposed arrangements, a candidate or a person is not required to obtain prior written consent from those who provide support in the EAs if the candidate or person has neither requested or directed nor authorised any other person to request or direct the inclusion of such support in EAs.
This proposed arrangement seeks to protect a candidate or person from being inadvertently caught under the relevant provision of the ECICO in circumstances under which it is difficult to obtain prior written consent from third parties indicating support for the candidate out of their own volition.
We trust that the proposed arrangements mentioned above can facilitate candidates to conduct electioneering activities and simplify the procedures for handling EAs while maintaining the integrity, fairness and openness of elections
Constituents of FCs
For the constituents of traditional FCs, we have conducted a comprehensive review when preparing the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2010 and that Bill was enacted in March 2011. However, as a regular exercise before each LegCo election, we have reviewed whether there is a need to propose technical amendments to the constituents of the traditional FCs to reflect the latest developments.
Therefore, the Bill contains technical amendments to some FCs, which include updating the names of certain bodies which are registered or are eligible to be registered as electors. This is because these bodies are no longer operating under their old names. The updating does not change the composition of the FCs concerned. The Bill also deletes those bodies that have ceased operation. These bodies have not been included in the final register.
The above technical amendments will also be applicable to the bodies in those EC subsectors with the same name as the corresponding FCs.
Improve electoral procedures
To prepare for the LegCo election this year, and to fine-tune electoral procedures and make electoral procedures of various elections consistent with each other, the Bill contains operational or technical amendments to the relevant Electoral Affairs Commission regulations, including amendments providing for the counting arrangements for the DC (second) FC.
Acting Madam President, we have been working closely with the Electoral Affairs Commission on the relevant electoral practical arrangements to ensure that the LegCo election in September 2012 can be conducted smoothly. The proposed Electoral Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2012 seeks to amend the related electoral arrangements for the elections. I hope that Members will support the passage of the Bill as soon as possible so that the revised electoral arrangements can be implemented for the 2012 LegCo election in September.
Thank you, Acting Madam President.
Ends/Wednesday, February 8, 2012