Non-Cantonese speakers in the city may feel left out of the Legislative Council elections on September 4, as most promotional leaflets – including the candidates’ manifestos – were exclusively in Cantonese.
Shahryar Naeem, 18, from the University of Hong Kong, told Young Post that the elections have overlooked ethnic minorities’ needs. “It is so inconvenient for voters like me to read these pamphlets, which are mostly written in Chinese,” he said. “It seems awkward at times as I’m being asked to contribute without being fully aware of what’s going on. I feel a bit sidelined.”
He added it was hard to decide who to vote for if they were not aware of what the candidates hope to achieve.
“It is the duty of the government to cater to the needs of ethnic minorities,” Naeem said. “While banning some controversial words, such as ‘self-determination’, in their leaflets, I think the Electoral Affairs Commission [EAC] should also ensure the information is in multiple languages.”
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He was referring to the election watchdog not approving Nathan Law Kwun-chung’s promotional leaflets on August 1, because the EAC sought legal advice over words such as “self-determination” and “civil referendum”. Law, who is running for Demosisto on Hong Kong Island in the elections, accused the EAC of political censorship.
League of Social Democrats’ chairman Avery Ng Man-yuen, running in Kowloon West, also had his pamphlets rejected by the Housing Department for containing the phrase “Hong Kong independence”.
In response to Young Post’s inquiries, an EAC spokesperson said that they do not enforce bilingual information for the electorate, meaning some non-Chinese voters will get promotional materials that they do not understand.
Lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen, who is running in in the Education Functional Constituency race, said he allowed voters to choose Cantonese or English versions of his leaflets.
The Federation of Trade Unions’ Alice Mak Mei-kuen and New People’s Party’s Michael Tien Puk-sun, who are battling for Legco seats in New Territories West, both said their promotional leaflets contained bilingual information.