English can add up in elections

First published: 06th December 2011

Reading Raymond Carl Hizon's excellent letter ("Voters who cannot read Chinese are left in the dark about candidates", October 21) and following Regina Ip's reply to me ("Candidates are aware of expat voters", October 22), I decided to check the figures.

The Registration and Electoral Office kindly provided me with a report on the number of voters that indicated a preference for Chinese or English in each of the district council constituencies, and I compared the figures to the results of the district council elections.

In total, 14.5 per cent of registered voters preferred receiving election information in English. This is not the same as the percentage of expat voters, but it is more relevant to deciding which languages to use when communicating with voters.

In 52 per cent of the constituencies (215 out of 412), the number of voters preferring English was greater than the margin between the winner and the second-placed candidate.

Examples of these constituencies include not just the Peak, where 64 per cent of voters preferred English, but also Yat Chak, where only 4.4 per cent preferred English but the election was closely fought.

Therefore, effectively communicating in English as well as Chinese could easily make the difference between winning and losing a seat.

I hope that all parties will take note, and ensure that, in future elections, they improve their efforts to communicate with the whole electorate.

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