Hong Kong’s law enforcement agencies are ramping up efforts to ensure the legislative election is conducted in a fair and secure manner with 800 graft-buster officers deployed to check polling stations and high-profile patrols by police to prevent chaos and attacks on election day, which has entered a 30-day countdown.
On Dec 19, the Independent Commission Against Corruption will, for the first time, deploy 800 officers to polling stations across Hong Kong to handle inquiries, complaints and actions violating the elections ordinance, ICAC said at a news conference on Wednesday. The act aims to facilitate the first Legislative Council election to be held under the city’s revamped election system.
By increasing staff at its 24-hour report center, the agency will also strengthen internet monitoring activities to prevent law-breaching online acts.
Members of the public are urged not to participate in any attempt to manipulate and disrupt the election, such as sharing messages inciting others to boycott voting, obstructing others from voting, improperly influencing others’ decisions, and spreading false statements about candidates.
As of Nov 12, the agency had received six election-related complaints, all of which involved inciting others to abstain from voting or to cast invalid votes.
On Nov 9, the agency arrested three people suspected of reposting an online post that encouraged people to cast blank votes during the LegCo election. Under the revised Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance, such acts may warrant a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and a fine of HK$200,000 ($25,678).
In a Wednesday interview with Hong Kong China News Agency, Hong Kong Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung said that to ensure an orderly election, the police force will deploy high-profile street patrols and gather more intelligence on disruptive attempts during the polling.
The police force must stay on high alert to guard against safety hazards, given that lone-wolf-style attacks and homegrown terrorism have emerged in the city since the social unrest in 2019, Tang said.
Tang also warned that some local activists who earlier fled overseas could breach the election ordinances and the National Security Law for Hong Kong by posting social media messages asking Hong Kong people to boycott the election.
The authorities’ efforts to ensure a well-organized LegCo election were endorsed in a telephone survey released by the Hong Kong Research Association on Wednesday. Of the 1,067 respondents, 65 percent believed that the nomination process of the legislative election is “very fair and just” or “reasonably fair and just”.
Some 56 percent of respondents believe that the election for the geographical constituency, which will elect 20 out of 90 lawmakers, will be “competitive”.
The remaining 70 seats of the new legislature will comprise 40 lawmakers from the Election Committee and 30 from the functional constituencies.
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