Human error blamed for chaos in last HK election


Sun, May 08, 2005 - Page 5

Human error and poor preparation led to chaos during Hong Kong's legislative election last year, but the integrity and fairness of the results were not compromised, according to a report by an independent committee.

The vote last September was plagued by a ballot box shortage that forced election workers to open up the boxes during polling hours. Some workers compressed ballots with barbecue forks and rulers to make more room.

Voters had also complained about long queues outside polling stations and a delay in announcing results.

Critics had charged that the problems cast doubt on the credibility of the election. Top election officials denied the allegations and rejected calls for them to quit.

An independent committee, appointed by the government to review the problems, blamed the chaos on "human errors or oversight," poor preparation by insufficiently trained election workers and a lack of a contingency plan to deal with such crises.

"Lack of transparency had generated unnecessary suspicion and speculation," said the report, which was released on Friday.

But the committee said the "integrity, fairness and impartiality of the election results were not compromised."

Opposition lawmaker Fred Li (李華明) slammed the report for failing to hold any official responsible and renewed calls for Hong Kong's electoral chief, Woo Kwok-hing, to resign.

"Shouldn't the official in charge of the election take responsibility and resign?" Li said.

In a statement, Woo said the Electoral Affairs Commission has introduced improvement measures and will follow up on the committee's recommendations to improve arrangements for future elections.