|LCQ8: Display of Election Publicity Materials
Following is a question by Hon Lau Chin-shek and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 22):
To prepare for the Chief Executive ("CE") election, the Government will hold the Election Committee ("EC") subsector elections later on. During the election period, the Lands Department ("LandsD") requires all Legislative Council ("LegCo") Members and District Council ("DC") members to remove at their own expenses their roadside publicity materials ("PMs") at the spots approved by LandsD and put them back after the election. According to past experience, the costs for hiring workers to remove PMs and put them back are about 40 dollars for each spot. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the current total number of spots approved by LandsD for LegCo Members and DC members to display their PMs;
(b) whether it has calculated the costs to be borne by LegCo Members/DC members for removing and putting back all of their PMs; if it has, of the costs;
(c) whether it will consider putting up the PMs of the EC subsector elections on top of the PMs of LegCo Members/DC members which are on display at present, instead of requiring them to remove all of their existing PMs; if not, of the reasons for that;
(d) whether it will consider requiring LegCo Members/DC members to remove their PMs only at those spots which are needed for the EC subsector elections and allowing them to keep their PMs at other spots; if not, of the reasons for that;
(e) of the number of those spots for which approval had been granted but were also revoked temporarily during last year's CE by-election, and the respective numbers of the spots which were used and those which were not used for displaying the PMs of the CE by-election; and
(f) whether approval for designated spots will again be revoked temporarily during the CE election to be held in March next year; if so, of the details of the arrangements?
The Lands Department ("LandsD") introduced a Management Scheme in 2003 to better manage the display of roadside non-commercial publicity materials by Legislative Council ("LegCo") Members and District Council ("DC") members, Government departments and non-profit-making organisations. Under the Management Scheme, the LandsD is responsible for approving applications and allocating designated spots to individual parties for the display of publicity materials. According to the Implementation Guidelines of the Management Scheme, applications and approvals for the use of the designated spots will be temporarily suspended or revoked during election periods.
During election periods, spots on public land for candidates to display their election advertisements ("EAs") are designated by Returning Officers ("ROs").
The Administration’s response to the respective parts of the question is as follows :
(a) According to the LandsD, the department has approved about 13,100 spots for LegCo Members and DC Members to display their publicity materials. These approvals were temporarily revoked as from October 23, 2006 to cater for the display of EAs by candidates for the Election Committee subsector elections, which will be held on 10 December 2006.
(b) The LandsD does not have any information on the costs to be borne by LegCo Members and DC members for removing and putting back their publicity materials.
(c) The proposal of putting up EAs on top of the publicity materials originally on display at the designated spots (so that the latter need not be removed during election periods) may give rise to some difficult legal and practical issues which would need to be carefully addressed. Such issues include :
(i) possible confusion to voters if the EAs are not large enough to cover fully the original publicity materials;
(ii) possible damage to the original publicity materials when the EAs are put on top of them (and the resultant issue of responsibility arising therefrom); and
(iii) the issue of responsibility in case the original publicity materials and the EAs cause any danger or inconvenience to passers-by.
(d) Existing publicity materials put up on designated spots under the Management Scheme will have to be removed, if the designated spots are designated by ROs for the display of EAs. The removal should be effected before the start of the nomination period. As regards the other designated spots (if there remains any), the publicity materials may continue to remain on display.
(e) During the Chief Executive (CE) by-election in 2005, the RO designated about 950 designated spots in various locations in Hong Kong for the display of EAs. According to the information available to the Registration and Electoral Office, no EA was displayed on these designated spots on that occasion.
(f) For the coming CE election to be held in 2007, it is envisaged that the RO may designate a similar number of designated spots for the display of EAs. Any publicity materials which are originally on display at these spots will need to be removed by a date to be specified.
Ends/Wednesday, November 22, 2006