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Source: Hong Kong Information Services

The Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) today announced that will not hold a Legislative Council by-election to fill two vacancies in the current term of the Legislative Council due to practical circumstances.

The EAC said by-election preparations to fill the two vacancies for the Hong Kong Island and New Territories East geographical constituencies is expected to take more than six months.

According to the Legislative Council Ordinance, a by-election to fill a vacancy occurring in the LegCo membership is not to be held within the four months preceding the end of that council’s current term of office.

As such, the EAC will not be able to arrange a by-election to fill the two vacancies, arising from the determination of election petitions related to the 2018 LegCo by-election held in March 2018.

Section 36(1)(a) of the Legislative Council Ordinance stipulates that the EAC must arrange for a by-election to be held on the making of a declaration as to the existence of a vacancy in the membership of the LegCo under section 35 of the ordinance.

However, Section 36(2) of the same ordinance stipulates that the deadline for holding a LegCo by-election is four months preceding the end of LegCo’s current term of office, i.e. before May 31, 2020.

The EAC explained that the 2019 District Council Ordinary Election was completed under very difficult situations and unprecedented challenges.

Based on that experience and after reviewing the practical circumstances, the EAC estimates that it will take more than six months to arrange a by-election.

The EAC said it is not possible to hold the by-election for the two geographical constituencies before the statutory deadline, which is four months preceding the end of LegCo’s current term of office.

The EAC further stated that the 2020 LegCo General Election, to be held in the third quarter of this year, involves more than 4.1 million registered electors and the preparation would take an enormous amount of manpower and resources.

With more than 1.7 million registered electors in Hong Kong Island and New Territories East geographical constituencies, the preparation for the by-election will overlap with that of the 2020 LegCo General Election.

The EAC noted that current manpower of the Registration & Electoral Office (REO) is not adequate to prepare for two major public elections simultaneously.

Apart from manpower, other factors such as availability of venues for polling and counting stations and procurement of electoral materials should also be taken into account, the EAC said.

Under the current social situation, the REO made it clear that it needs more time and resources when preparing and arranging for venues and contingencies.

Due to various practical factors, the REO is of the view that a LegCo by-election cannot be arranged before the statutory deadline.

The EAC agreed with the REO and has decided not to hold a LegCo by-election to fill the two vacancies.

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News