Kenneth Chan speaks to RTHK’s Violet Wong

Activists and academics announced on Thursday that they had set up their own election monitoring body ahead of November’s district council polls, saying a new independent watchdog is needed due to the public’s general distrust of the government.

The group Civil Rights Observer, which was set up in the wake of the 2014 Occupy protests, will run the Election Observation Project along with Baptist University’s Comparative Governance and Policy Research Centre.

They’re urging members of the public to notify them via a platform being set up of any malpractice relating to the upcoming elections, such as vote-rigging or unfair publicity campaigns.

“Report those incidents to us, with photographs, information, and materials, and we’ll do the very best we can to do what people call ‘fact-checking’,” said the centre’s director, Kenneth Chan.

“Based on the verifiable findings, we will be able to inform, not only Hong Kong people, but concerned citizens and the international community, to what extent in the upcoming district council elections Hong Kong will have free, fair, open elections, adhering to international standards,” he said.

Chan, a former Civic Party legislator, said nobody involved in the monitoring project will be taking part in November’s elections in any way and nor will they be endorsing any candidates.

He said the project will be important because since the extradition bill controversy, the people of Hong Kong have witnessed “various degrees of government incompetency” and there’s a lack of trust regarding the government and its partners, including the police.

Chan added that the project team has written to the Electoral Affairs Commission – the SAR’s official election watchdog – for information about the criteria for disqualifying would-be candidates for the November 24 polls.