Hong Kong authorities have disqualified 12 pro-democracy candidates from upcoming elections, deepening political tensions in the Chinese territory.
Opposition legislators had hoped to obtain a majority in the Legislative Council (LegCo) in September’s poll after Beijing’s imposition of a highly controversial national security law.
Among those barred are high-profile activists Joshua Wong and Lester Shum.
The government said the candidates weren’t fit run office.
It said they might not be considered to be abiding by the constitutional duty required of lawmakers if they:
- advocated for, or promoted, Hong Kong’s independence
- solicited intervention by foreign governments in Hong Kong’s affairs
- expressed “an objection in principle” to the imposition of the national security law by central authorities in Beijing
- expressed “an intention to exercise the functions of a LegCo Member by indiscriminately voting down” any legislative proposals introduced by the Hong Kong government, “so on force the govt to accede to certain political demands”
In its statement announcing the disqualifications, the govt said the choice was taken in line with Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – the essential Law.
“There is not any question of any political censorship, restriction of the liberty of speech or deprivation of the proper to face for elections as alleged by some members of the community,” it said, adding that more disqualifications couldn’t be ruled out.
Joshua Wong, who rose to prominence as a teenage activist during protests in 2014, said the choice showed “a total disregard for the desire of Hongkongers” and “tramples upon the city’s last pillar of vanishing autonomy”.
The new national security law has been highly controversial in Hong Kong , a former British colony which is now a part of China but was given unique freedoms in an agreement before the transfer of sovereignty.
The law was widely condemned by Western governments, but China says it’s necessary to revive stability within the territory, which was hit by months of pro-democracy protests last year which frequently turned violent.
The opposition candidates disqualified on Thursday include four incumbent lawmakers, four district councillors – including Mr Shum – and activists Ventus Lau Wing-hong, Gwyneth Ho Kwai-Lam and Alvin Cheng Kam-mun, additionally to Mr Wong.
The Civic Party, one among the city’s pro-democracy parties who counted members among those barred, said the disqualifications “exploited the proper of Hong Kong people to vote”, Reuters press agency reports.
Its four disqualified members were Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Cheng Tat-hung.The disqualification of candidates comes amid speculation that the govt could postpone the election as a results of a resurgence of coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said it had been on the verge of a “large-scale outbreak”, which could cause hospitals to “collapse”.
A widely anticipated move
The mass disqualification of pro-democracy candidates has been widely anticipated after the primary precedents in 2016. This came as an important blow after the pro-democracy camp held the primaries, during which quite 600,000 voted, just a touch quite fortnight ago.
Many of the barred candidates are young and support more confrontational tactics to fight for his or her cause. But it came as a surprise that four candidates from the Civic Party, which was founded by a gaggle of lawyers in 2006, were also banned from running. it’s been considered a more moderate wing of the democratic movement.
There are speculations that the govt is getting to postpone the legislature election by one year amid a replacement outbreak of coronavirus. Critics say the govt wants to delay the election because the pro-Beijing camp will face a shocking defeat like last year’s District Council elections.
On the opposite hand, the govt says candidates cannot perform the duties of lawmakers if they vote down any proposals and force the govt to satisfy political demands after securing a majority. Then subsequent question is, will any opposition candidates be allowed to run within the future?
What is LegCo?
The legislature helps to form and amend Hong Kong’s laws.
It is made from 70 seats – but only 35 of those seats are directly voted for by the general public .Another 30 seats represent “functional constituencies” – these are voted for by smaller groups representing special interests, primarily businesses, banking and trade. Historically these sectors are largely pro-Beijing.
The last five seats are made from district councillors who are elected by the general public to take a seat on LegCo.
This system, where only a proportion of LegCo councillors are chosen by the public, has been called undemocratic by critics, but supporters of the system say it helps avoid populism and protects Hong Kong’s business interests.
Source: bbc news