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China Daily Global / 2020-07 / 31 / Page005

Hong Kong bars 12 activists from standing for election

By KATHY ZHANG in Hong Kong | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-07-31 00:00

Returning officers in Hong Kong on Thursday disqualified a dozen aspiring candidates from running for the city's upcoming Legislative Council election.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government and the central government's liaison office in the city voiced their support of the decisions to invalidate these candidates' nominations, saying the decisions were "well-founded" and made in strict accordance with the Basic Law and the city's electoral laws.

The 12 disqualified election nominees include pro-independence activists Joshua Wong Chifung and Lester Shum, and incumbent lawmakers Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Dennis Kwok Winghang, Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong and Kwok Ka-ki.

They were approached by the returning officers, who are tasked with assessing the eligibility of candidacy for elections, to present their cases by answering questions on their stance in terms of upholding the Basic Law and their allegiance to the special administrative region.

In the written replies to the electoral officers, these candidates, who earlier advocated for the independence of Hong Kong and lobbied foreign countries to sanction the city, took a U-turn on their political stance.

However, the Electoral Affairs Commission (Electoral Procedure) (Legislative Council) Regulation stipulates that a returning officer may decide that a candidate is not validly nominated if the candidate's answers to the requests are inconsistent with his declaration to "uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR".

In a statement on Thursday, the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said the behaviors of those disqualified candidates have crossed the legal bottom line and have fallen short of the basic political requirement for a lawmaker.

The office pointed to some candidates' previous acts and political agendas including advocating Hong Kong independence, begging for foreign intervention in the city's affairs, pledging to vote down the budget and paralyze the operation of the Hong Kong government if they win a majority at the legislature.

The spokesperson of the liaison office questioned how can these people, who planned to paralyze the SAR government, subvert State power and destroy the city, sincerely uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the nation and the HKSAR.

The operation of the city's legislature, a key organ meant to safeguard the city's constitutional order, should not be in the hands of these people who attempt to destroy the "one country, two systems" framework and put the city's stability and prosperity in peril, the spokesperson noted.

In a statement written on Thursday, the SAR government said it believed the returning officers' final decisions were made to ensure the election can be held in strict accordance with the Basic Law and other applicable laws in an open, honest and fair manner.

According to the government, people who advocate or promote Hong Kong independence, self-determination or changing the system of the HKSAR will not be deemed as someone who genuinely upholds the Basic Law.

The same goes for those who solicit intervention by foreign governments or political authorities in relation to the HKSAR's affairs; oppose the National Security Law for Hong Kong and attempt to paralyze the government via voting down all government proposals; and refuse to recognize China's sovereignty over the HKSAR and the HKSAR's constitutional status as a local administrative region of China.

The government stressed "there is no question of any political censorship, restriction of the freedom of speech or deprivation of the right to stand for elections".

The government also revealed it doesn't rule out the possibility that more nominations would be invalidated as returning officers are still reviewing the validity of other nominations. The nominations will end on July 31.

Separately, Hong Kong police on Wednesday night arrested four students, aged 16 to 21, on suspicion of secession and inciting secession under the city's National Security Law.

In their political manifesto, the four, part of a newly-established pro-independence political group, pledged to use every means to fight for the establishment of a "Hong Kong nation".

Following the arrests, various sectors in the city called for the education sector, especially the schools, to cooperate with police and the government in uprooting separatism sown in the campuses.


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