Battle stations over poll pressure claim

Local | Sum Lok-kei 3 Jan 2018

The organizer of the pro-democracy camp's "preliminary elections" to select two candidates for upcoming by-elections said it is facing difficulties in finding venues for polling stations, as some institutions have been "pressured" against leasing out their venues.

Voting by residents in the preliminary elections for New Territories East and Kowloon West, the constituencies involved in the March 11 by-elections, is scheduled for January 14, and will account for 45 percent of the candidate selection organized by Power for Democracy.

Another 45 percent will come from a poll conducted by the University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Programme, while 10 percent will come from voting by representatives of pro-democracy groups.

Convener Andrew Chiu Ka-yin said yesterday his group had been trying to book venues that are politically neutral, such as schools and churches, for use as poll stations, but found it difficult to secure venues.

"Some schools and churches felt pressured and could not lease out their venues," Chiu said, without naming which parties were involved. "You can see that the situation is quite grim, as the event is not radical in nature."

The group would announce the locations of seven polling stations on Sunday at the latest, one week before the vote.

To make up for the lack of neutral sites, it might use sites linked to certain political parties, which Chiu said could be "less than ideal" for some candidates.

Labour Party chairman Steven Kwok Wing-kin, former student leader Tommy Cheung Sau-yin and former lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai will compete for the NT endorsement, while the Kowloon endorsement is contested by former lawmakers Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Frederick Fung Kin-kee, as well as Democratic Party district councillor Ramon Yuen Hoi-man.

Kwok said he was worried the late announcement of poll station locations could affect voter turnout.

Yuen said he hoped the stations can be set up at politically neutral venues, as "perception is also important."

Meanwhile, two rogue" candidates from the pro-democracy camp announced their intention to run in the by-elections without joining the preliminary.

They are localist Ventus Lau Wing-hong, who claims to have the backing of former lawmaker Sixtus Leung Chung-hang, and former People Power member Edward Yum Liang-hsien.

The pro-democracy camp has said it will back Demosisto candidate Agnes Chow Ting in the Hong Kong Island by-election.

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