Does your candidate live where you do?
18 October 2019
In response to fears of personal attacks against candidates, the Government, via the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) has today announced subsidiary legislation which removes the requirement for District Council (DC) or Legislative Council (LegCo) candidates to disclose their home addresses, both in nomination forms and in the published Gazette. The DC amendment takes immediate effect because there is an election due on 24-Nov. The LegCo amendment is proposed to take effect on 1-Jan-2020. Both can be amended by LegCo under negative vetting procedures.
In our view, the amendments have gone too far. Electors don't need to know exactly where a candidate sleeps at night, but electors do have a legitimate interest in whether or not the candidate actually lives in the constituency or district which they wish to represent. Based on the 2015 DC nominations, we know that many serving District Councillors do not live in their constituency (there are 431 constituencies, increasing to 452 this time) or even in their District (there are 18). Similarly, based on the 2016 LegCo nominations, many of the Geographic Constituency legislators don't live in their constituency (there are 5). A candidate who does live in their constituency or District might have a better understanding of the issues that place faces. One who lives on the opposite side of the HKSAR might find it harder to serve and be less attentive to the interests of their constituents.
In this knee-jerk response to "doxxing", the Government and EAC do not appear to have given any consideration to striking a balance between the informational needs of electors and the needs of candidates to protect their homes and families. So we urge LegCo to amend the regulations to require that DC candidates disclose whether or not they live in the District, and if so, whether or not they live in the constituency of that District for which they are running. Similarly, for LegCo elections, whether or not the candidate lives in the Geographic Constituency. This is binary information that doesn't require disclosing home addresses.
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