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Taiwan case could spur court intervention(03/23/04)

    BEIJING, March 23 (Xinhuanet) -- Should a scenario similar to what happened in Taiwan take place, candidates for the upcoming Legislative Council election in Hong Kong could seek help from the court, Justice Woo Kwok-hing, chairman of Hong Kong's Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC), said Monday.

    If candidates were attacked during the election, they could apply to the court to have the election results declared void although there is no provisions dealing with such a situation.

    But he expressed the hope that "what happened in Taiwan would not happen in Hong Kong".

    "I also do not think such things would happen here because law and order in Hong Kong have always been good," he said.

    Presiding officers at polling stations could also start a recount if the margin of victory is very close, he added.

    He made the remarks as the commission released a set of proposed guidelines for the Legislative Council elections, which are open for public consultation until April 20.

    "We will definitely listen to good suggestions. But all suggestions must be sent to us within the prescribed period or they will not be considered," Woo said.

    The September 12 polls will return 60 members to LegCo, 30 by geographic constituencies and 30 by functional constituencies.

    Nominations will be accepted from July 22 to August 4. Potential candidates can seek free legal advice from the Nominations Advisory Committees to find out if they qualify for candidature between now and July 21, according to the guidelines.

    Woo was also asked whether, in the light of the situation in Taiwan, it would be possible for Hong Kong to postpone the election under special circumstances.

    The election can be postponed for reasons such as bad weather or riots, according to the law, he said.

    The guidelines give details about the new measures on printing particulars relating to candidates on ballot papers, including personal photographs, and names and emblems of supporting organizations.

    As only those names and emblems properly registered with the commission are allowed to be printed on ballot papers, all interested parties are reminded to submit relevant applications by April 1.

    The proposed guidelines also set out the operational details of the newly introduced financial assistance scheme for candidates standing in the polls.

    As for the major changes in comparison with the LegCo election four years ago, it is proposed that for the geographical constituency elections, vote counting will take place immediately after the polls and the polling stations are converted into counting stations.

    As proved in the 2003 District Council elections, counting at the polling stations saves time and transportation of the ballot boxes, the judge said.

    Also for the first time, financial assistance - calculated at HK$10 per vote - will be granted to elected candidates securing at least 5 per cent of valid votes.

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