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 2014 in the Legislative Council (LegCo) today (April 16):
I move the Second Reading of the Electoral Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2014.
To prepare for the next election cycle, we have reviewed various electoral laws in the light of experience gained from previous elections, with a view to improving the clarity of relevant provisions as well as refining certain statutory procedural requirements. After the review, we propose to introduce some technical amendments to various pieces of electoral legislation through the Bill. These technical amendments are related to the voter registration (VR) arrangements and the electoral procedures for the LegCo, District Council (DC) and Rural Representative elections.
The technical amendments proposed in the Bill include:
(1) extension of electoral deadlines in case of inclement weather to compensate for the time lost for completing relevant procedures;
(2) inclusion of electors who have voluntarily requested de-registration in the omissions list to ensure consistency in the compilation of the provisional register and omissions list;
(3) express provision of an avenue for existing geographical constituency (GC) electors to register in the DC (second) functional constituency (FC);
(4) removal of the requirement for prior notice of appointment of polling and counting agents to simplify procedures;
(5) requirement for an elector who is entitled to have two or more ballot papers in a LegCo election to cast all his ballot papers at one time, to maintain good order and ensure smooth operation in polling stations;
(6) rationalisation of counting procedures at main counting stations;
(7) providing clearly in the law an election agent's authority to act on behalf of candidate(s);
(8) improvements to the provisions about postponement or adjournment of an election, poll or count, including (i) changing the period within which an election, poll or count, postponed or adjourned due to an occurrence which appears to be a material irregularity relating to it, must be conducted or resumed from "no later than two days from the original day" to "no later than 14 days after the original day", and (ii) specifying that an election, poll or count can be postponed or adjourned when it is likely to be obstructed, disrupted, undermined or seriously affected by a danger to public health; and
(9) other minor or technical amendments which do not affect the substance of the electoral systems.
In addition, the Bill proposes to advance the statutory deadline for VR application in respect of the GC, FC and Election Committee subsector registers by 14 calendar days, in order to provide 10 more days for the public to inspect the provisional registers and the omissions lists and to make claims and objections; and to provide the Revising Officer with four more days to handle hearings of claims and objections.
The Bill also proposes to change the existing offences on making false or incorrect statements concerning VR from summary offences to indictable offences, in order to remove the six-month time bar for prosecution, to enhance enforcement effectiveness and deterrent effect.
President, I hope that Members will support the Bill so that the various amendments to enhance the VR and electoral procedures can take effect as early as possible. Thank you.
Ends/Wednesday, April 16, 2014