Staging rallies that aim for campaigning should follow the Electoral Law over other laws, said the head of the Electoral Affairs Commission (CAEL), Tong Hio Fong yesterday after the last meeting before the Election.
Fong emphasised that Electoral Law is a special law that should be prioritised over other general laws.
Arguments surfaced saying that the Electoral Law is contradicting the law of staging rallies in the wake of the recent verdict made by the Top Court of allowing the seventh candidate group to stage a rally in a public area.
According to the Electoral Law, any campaign by candidates that is performed outside of the arranged venues would be considered as inappropriate promotion, and the candidate might face a charge of violating the law.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Chan Wai Chi, the second candidate of the aforementioned candidate group allegedly ordered a member to put up a promotional flag on a fence in the Fai Chi Kei district. He is facing a charge of violating the law.
“We are not opposing the right to stage rallies,” said Fong. “But this [the verdict] doesn’t mean to allow them to put up fixed promotional items to the place in question.”
When asked about CAEL’s action over the inconsistencies that appeared between the release posted by the Public Security Police (PSP) and the record made by Chan with the police, Fong dodged the question saying that it is very difficult to judge which party is claiming the truth.
“So we need to check with the related document but supposingly the record made by the PSP should have been signed by the candidate,” said Fong; CAEL will investigate the case with the police after the press persisted enquiring.
Chan told the press on Tuesday, after he submitted a complaint to the Electoral Information Centre, that he would take the responsibility for his group’s behaviour but stressed that he was not informed by anyone, including the police officer that the ‘member was following orders made by a candidate’.
“If the candidate or anyone who suspect that the PSP had released something untrue we for sure would follow-up,” added Fong.
“Can’t handle smearing issues”
The CAEL head proclaimed that it is difficult to confirm whether opinions or information that smear some particular candidates is true or not.
“If any candidate considers the information in question has committed slander, they would have to approach the PSP for assistance,” suggested Fong.
Nevertheless, Fong reported that they had received around eight to ten complaints of smearing.
Meanwhile, CAEL reported that all promotional items and posts online should be taken down on the night of September 15 before the start of a calm period on September 16.
“If we see any posts related to the campaign in the calm period, we will handle them like we did before the campaign period,” said the CAEL head. “We will ask any related candidate to take down these posts and be penalised [if cases are found].”
He also advised supporters to stop promotion during the calm period although residents are not mandated to obey the law.
Fong further revealed that they had received over 50 complaints during the campaigning period, with 14 cases being successfully charged by the PSP up until last Tuesday night.