|SCA: Voter turnout in last few hours very encouraging
Following is the transcript (English portion) of a standup briefing given by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, at the Legislative Council Election Press Centre at the Hong Kong International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kowloon Bay shortly after 12.15 pm today(September 12):
SCA: Our hope has always been that the overall voter turnout rate for this time will exceed that of 2000. In last few hours, the experience and the turnout has been very encouraging. Up until 11.30am, over 370,000 voters have already turned out to cast their votes. The overall turnout rate is 11.58 per cent. If this trend continues, we are hopeful that the overall turnout rate will exceed that of 43.5 per cent in 2000. The more Hong Kong people come out to vote, the more importance it reflects that the community of Hong Kong places in the work of the Legislative Council. This is a positive indicator. And on the part of the government, our colleagues look very much forward to working closely with all Legislative Councillors elected today to serve the people of Hong Kong.
Finally, I would like to remind all registered voters once again that they should come out to vote before 10.30pm tonight to exercise their civic rights and to participate in the formation of the Legislative Council.
Reporter: What do the figures, the high turnout rate, indicate now?
SCA: The high turnout rate so far that we have been able to register in the last four hours indicates that the people of Hong Kong are truly interested in the Legislative Council Election and that they place importance on the work of the legislature. The build-up in the last few months has been made possible on the part of efforts made by the government, by Legislative Council candidates and by political parties concerned. Of course, the people of Hong Kong, in the final analysis, is the most important player in this particular arena.
Reporter: What kind of candidates do you think will mainly gain from this high turnout?
SCA: I think the results will speak for themselves when they are available after 10.30pm tonight. For now my emphasis is to encourage all registered voters to come out and exercise their civic rights.
Reporter: I would like to ask about the voter complaints. You have just talked about how many we have so far? Is it higher compared to that before? Do you think the number of complaints would be higher as well?
SCA: I actually made a statement at the beginning but I'll repeat this for you. Up until 11.30am, the total voter turnout rate is over 370,000 people coming out to vote and the percentage is 11.58 percent. The experience in the last four hours and the records which we have registered indicate that there is a very good chance we would exceed the overall turnout rate of 43.5 per cent in year 2000. So far as I am concerned, the more importance Hong Kong people place in the work of Legislative Council, the more positive it is.
Reporter: Could you talk about voter complaints?
SCA: In the first three hours of today's election exercise, the colleagues of the Registration and Electoral Office have received over 300 complaints. About 150 of these are focused around questions of election advertising. On the whole, the order around the polling stations has been maintained and I would encourage all electors, all candidates and their supporters to continue to respect the guidelines which the Electoral Affairs Commission has issued and to play by the rules. This election belongs to us. Let's keep it clean and tidy.
Reporter: Are you worried that the figure is so high? The number of complaints has already exceeded 300.
SCA: I think, on the whole, the order in and around the polling stations has been maintained and I think the guidelines are very clear. We should be able to maintain this order. As for election complaints, the Electoral Affairs Commission and the ICAC will of course follow this up very methodically and vigilantly. That has always been their practice and tradition and this will of course be maintained.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Sunday, September 12, 2004