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All members returned in HK's legislature elections
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The Electoral Affairs Commission announced Monday morning that all the 60 members of the fourth term Legislative Council have been returned in the elections, which ended late Sunday night.

It took about 10 hours for polling staff to count more than 1.5 million ballots and the Electoral Affairs Commission began publishing the official results from 5:30 a.m. local time Monday.

Chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission, Justice Pang Kin-kee, said the commission has received about 2,024 complaints related to the elections, with which the commission was handling according to fixed procedures.

The 60 newly elected councilors, with 30 returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and another 30 by functional constituencies, will form the fourth term Legislative Council and start practicing their duty entrusted by the Basic Law during the coming four years in office from Oct. 1, 2008.

In the elections, a total of 142 candidates ran for 30 seats in five geographical constituencies under the proportional representation formula while another 45 competed for 16 seats in 16 contested functional constituencies. Fourteen candidates in 12 functional constituencies were returned uncontested.

The polls, beginning at 07:30 a.m. local time Sunday, lasted for 15 hours until 10:30 p.m. local time Sunday when most polling stations closed. The polling hours for two polling stations in Quarry Bay and Chai Wan were prolonged for 25 minutes and seven minutes as the elections at these two stations were interrupted for 25 and seven minutes respectively.

Altogether 532 polling stations across Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories were open for more than 1.52 million voters to cast their ballots in the direct elections for geographical constituencies with a turnout rate of about 45.2 percent, down from 55.64 percent from the previous elections, according to the Electoral Affairs Commission.

Meanwhile, 127,000 voters cast their ballots in the elections of 16 contested functional constituencies, with a turnout rate of 60.3 percent, also down from 70.14 percent of the previous ones.

After visiting a ballot-counting station at Happy Valley late Sunday night, Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of the HKSAR, said the elections were as always proceeding in fair, open and just means.

"We look forward to working with the new term Legislative Council to face up the economic slowdown for Hong Kong people," he said.

Under the Basic Law of the HKSAR of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong is vested with legislative power since its return to China in 1997 and the Legislative Council is the legislature of the HKSAR.

The main functions of the Legislative Council are to enact laws, examine and approve budgets, taxation and public expenditure, and monitor the work of the HKSAR government. In addition, the Legislative Council is also given the power to endorse the appointment and removal of the judges of the Court of Final Appeal and the Chief Judge of the High Court, as well as the power to impeach the Chief Executive.

The elections of HKSAR's first term Legislative Council were held on May 24, 1998. There were 60 members of the first term Legislative Council from 1998 to 2000, with 30 members returned by functional constituencies, 20 by geographical constituencies through direct elections, and 10 by an election committee of 800 elected representatives of the community.

The elections for the second term Legislative Council of the HKSAR were held on Sept. 10, 2000, in which the second term LegCo was composed of 60 members, with 24 members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections, six members by an election committee, and 30 members by functional constituencies. The term of office of the second term Legislative Council was four years starting from Oct. 1, 2000.

The third term Legislative Council was elected on Sept. 12, 2004 when 30 members were returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections and 30 members returned by functional constituencies.

Before Hong Kong's return to China in 1997, the members of Hong Kong's Legislative Council were appointed by the British Hong Kong authorities.

(Xinhua News Agency September 8, 2008)

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