A magistrate has asked the government to extend the time period given to deal with voter registration-related complaints after the Sha Tin Magistrates’ Court went through over 300 cases on Wednesday alone, a situation he described as “almost absurd.”

According to magistrate Andrew Ma Hon-cheung, the court had to investigate and hear over 1,000 complaints, and was only given nine days to do so. The complaints were related to fraudulent or bogus particulars arising during the voter registration process, which are reviewed by the court. Many of the errors were a result of the Registration and Electoral Office’s incorrect inputting of data.

He said that the deadlines were unreasonable, and described the situation as “almost absurd” and one that puts all parties under heavy pressure.

magistrate andrew ma
Magistrate Andrew Ma Hon-cheung.

Ma also said that the judiciary had for many years pushed for an amendment of the regulations to allow more time, but the requests have been ignored. He emphasised that preparing an accurate register and giving the courts enough time to deal with the cases were crucial in ensuring a fair election.

He suggested granting an additional two weeks for new registration cases, and extending the time given to Registration and Electoral Office and the courts to investigate and hear cases by four weeks. He also said an additional week should be given for courts to deal with review cases.

Although Ma acknowledged the efforts of the Registration and Electoral Office, he said that the office should reflect on its methods.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.