- 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
- 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."
* * *
- Sunday Morning Post, February 22, 1998
- TYCOONS BUY EXTRA BALLOTS
- 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
- 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.