Lam denies blame for low voter turnout

Local | Phoenix Un 14 Mar 2018

Phoenix Un

The chief executive has denied playing down the weekend by-elections, saying the government had little to do with the low turnout rate.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was also blamed for not calling on citizens to vote when she cast her vote on Sunday.

The turnout rate for the Legislative Council by-elections was only 43 percent, 15 percentage points lower than the 2016 general election, at 58 percent, and even below the 2016 by-election's 46 percent.

Speaking before the Executive Council meeting yesterday, Lam said she felt strange about the allegations that the government played down the elections to discourage citizens from voting.

"There was no difference compared with past by-elections, in terms of the resources we put in and promotion we arranged," she said. "Indeed, in past by-elections I, as chief executive or chief secretary, did not make such calls (to urge citizens to vote)." Lam said she would try her best to make such calls during every election if people believed these calls could make more people go out to vote.

Meanwhile, pro-democracy supporters criticized defeated candidate Edward Yiu Chung-yim for being arrogant, belittling traditional pan-democrats, and placing too much trust in legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick.

Sha Tin resident Ms Lai, who had performed community work for pan-democrats in Kowloon West for 13 years, slammed Yiu on a radio program for holding unrealistic beliefs regarding campaign plans, in addition to his arrogance.

"Your defeat has besmirched the whole pan-democrat camp, and I'm very angry," Lai said. "I knew the issue of disqualification was not suitable for Kowloon West, and I bet that you would lose from the very beginning."

Yiu again apologized, admitting he had focused too much on middle-class estates instead of the grassroots and elderly districts.

"Communications might not have been good enough, but I had close contact with different sectors and listened to their advice," Yiu said, believing it was "mere misunderstanding" the primary controversy caused him to lose support to his primary opponent Frederick Fung Kin-kee.

Chu, who persuaded Yiu to run in the riding and gave him loads of advice, said he would apologize as a member of the pan-democrats.

He believed Yiu lost because the pro-democracy camp failed to link political issues with the by-election.

"Citizens' thoughts about disqualification and filibuster have been severely exploited by the pro-establishment camp," Chu said.

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