23 February 1998
Hong Kong Election Farce Exposed: Tycoons with Dozens of Votes
Democratic Party Chairman Martin Lee today ridiculed the Hong Kong electoral arrangements put in place by the appointed Provisional Legislature which have resulted in many tycoons accumulating dozens of votes.
Thirty seats in Hong Kong's May 24 elections will be returned by so-called "functional constituency" elections. In the 1995 elections, the functional constituency electorate was 2.7 million. But the post-handover government slashed the electorate by 2.5 million and re-installed "corporate" voting -- instead of "one person, one vote," Hong Kong's elections will feature "one company, one vote." However, an investigation by the South China Morning Post has revealed that business executives who register more companies have more votes (see full text of article below).
The Real Estate Functional Constituency, for instance, contains only 410 corporate "voters" (by contrast, each of the 20 democratically elected seats will have over 250,000 individual voters). But a number of tycoons have arranged a massive concentration of votes by registering shelf companies, which then each have a "vote." One of these shelf companies has a share capital of HK$2.
Martin Lee commented:
"Many of Hong Kong's business leaders have long made it no secret they do not like democracy, but now it turns out that they sure do like votes!
As if we needed more evidence -- this farce reveals that Hong Kong's rotten electoral system could not be more blatantly designed to misrepresent the views of Hong Kong's 6.5 million citizens. The Democratic Party calls for a full inquest into these fraudulent arrangements and for the abolition of the functional constituency system which encourages this type of abuse. We will accordingly be contesting the May elections with a platform of full democratic elections for the entire legislature."

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Sunday Morning Post, February 22, 1998
by Gren Manual
SOME of the SAR's richest tycoons have been able to secure extra votes in the Legco elections for a mere $2,000 annual fee.
"Shelf" companies, many registered in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, have been registered as members of the Real Estate Developers Association - and every member of the association gets a vote in the real estate functional constituency.
The biggest number of multiple votes has been gathered by companies in Robert Ng Chee Siong's Sino Group, which has 19 companies registered at its Tsim Sha Tsui East offices, of which 18 have nominated representatives for the election.
Five are US$1 companies registered in the Cayman Islands, and one a US$2 company registered in Panama.
Possible candidate, Liberal Party vice-chairman Ronald Arculli, is a director of Sino Land and its parent Tsim Sha Tsui Properties.
In contrast, only three property developers linked to Li Ka-shing are registered - all well-known business units.
Although shelf companies are no longer allowed to join the association, those who took advantage of the loophole several years ago have been allowed to continue their memberships as long as they pay the $2,000 annual levy, association general secretary Wai Siu-yu said.
Mr Wai said multiple memberships gave "no benefits inside the association" and declined to speculate on why members would want to retain multiple memberships.
Law Yuk-kai, director of Human Rights Monitor, criticised the Government for letting a private association decide who could vote.
"It is a distortion of the balance of power," he said. "They can legally get a higher voting power than the others."
Mr Law said it was hardly surprising Mr Arculli had historically been unopposed for the seat.
Because of the small electorate of just 410 voters, Sino Group's block of 18 votes was equivalent to 6,100 people in a geographical poll.
Mr Arculli is also a director of Amoy Properties, whose office on the 28th floor of the Standard Chartered Bank Building in Central is home to no fewer than 10 voting companies, including one with a share capital of just $2.
Mr Arculli was not available for comment. Woo Po-shing, senior partner at Mr Arculli's law firm Woo, Kwan, Lee and Lo, is a director of Lee Shau-kee's Henderson Land, whose office is home to 16 voting companies and Sun Hung Kai Properties, whose office is home to 13.
He said through an assistant this week that he would not attempt to influence the voting.
A spokesman for Sun Hung Kai Properties confirmed it had about 10 memberships of the association.
"Most of these companies have been members of the association for close to 10 years and the fact of their membership is in no way related to the upcoming elections," she said.
Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung was not available for comment.

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