Hong Kong prepares for safe, smooth elections

About 4,800 registered voters will receive poll cards and be directed to the five polling stations, in Wan Chai, Kowloon, Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan, and Tuen Mun. - China Daily

HONG KONG (China Daily/Asia News Network): Hong Kong authorities have readied facilities, personnel, and security measures for its first major elections under the special administrative region’s revamped electoral system, senior officials said on Tuesday (Sept 14).

John Lee Ka-chiu, chief secretary for administration, inspected the Registration and Electoral Office in Kowloon Bay on Tuesday as the city is poised on Sunday to elect members of the 1,500-strong Election Committee, which picks the city’s leader and nearly half of its lawmakers.

During his tour, Lee examined preparatory work for the polls, including the electronic poll registration system, queuing arrangement, and pandemic-prevention measures. The elections will have a profound impact on the effective governance of Hong Kong, and the government will ensure a proper and smooth polling process, he said.

The elections will be the city’s first since Hong Kong amended its election laws to accommodate the changes to its electoral system, spearheaded in March by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the county’s top legislature.

The SAR will then elect its lawmakers in December, and choose its chief executive in March.

In his official blog, Security Secretary Chris Tang Ping-keung said his bureau and other disciplined forces have carried out a standardized and comprehensive risk-prevention plan to guarantee safe, smooth, and orderly elections.

The Hong Kong Police Force will strengthen intelligence gathering and cyber patrols to identify and prevent saboteurs.

Police will also step up interceptions to prevent people from carrying illicit items onto polling sites and other key public places, he said.

The police will also deploy officers to station and patrol crowded areas in a high-profile manner to avoid acts endangering public order and security, Tang said.

“Any extremist who deliberately sabotages elections will be rigorously cracked down on by law enforcement agencies,” Tang warned.

According to the Registration and Electoral Office, about 4,800 registered voters will receive poll cards and be directed to the five polling stations, in Wan Chai, Kowloon, Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan, and Tuen Mun.

They will choose 364 Election Committee members among the 412 candidates in 13 subsectors. The remaining seats are either uncontested or will be filled by nominated or ex officio members.

In a survey by a public opinion research centre for Hong Kong-based Bauhinia Magazine, nearly 70 per cent of Hong Kong residents said they are optimistic that the Election Committee elections will produce results that better represent various subsectors and the overall interests of society.

The survey, which polled 1,508 respondents from Sept 6 through Sunday, concluded that residents are confident that the elections will be fair, just, and open.

Among respondents who said they are paying attention to the elections, 70 per cent felt that the quality of the candidates and their campaign platforms has improved compared with the previous terms.

More than 80 per cent believe the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee, established under the revised system, will effectively ensure the implementation of the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”.

The “patriotic, rational and dedicated” Election Committee members will lay a solid political foundation for the government to focus on the economy and livelihood issues, the report said.

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