Following the decree earlier this month that election candidates must recognize Chinese rule over Hong Kong, some prominent pro-independence candidates have been barred from running in the city’s Legislative Council elections in the fall, sparking fears that anyone holding separatist views would face similar consequences.
On Saturday, July 30th, Hong Kong National Party convener Chan Ho-tin was disqualified by the city’s election watchdog. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University graduate was denied on the grounds that he had refused to sign a declaration form that included acknowledging “that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China.” HKFP reports that the specific violation came from his refusal to comply with section 40(1)(b)(i) of the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap 542).
In response, the localist party posted a statement on Facebook denouncing the ban:
For those without VPNS:
Hong Kong National Party’s Solemn Announcement on being Disqualified from Running in LegCo Polls
Today (30 July), Hong Kong National Party received an email from the Electoral Affairs Committee stating that Chan Ho-tin, the convener of the Hong Kong National Party, has been disqualified from running in the coming Legislative Council election. Our Party is glad to see the Hong Kong Communist Colonial Government’s not hesitating to trigger off a constitutional crisis, and to deprive Hongkongers of their assumed election right and right to be elected, in order to prevent our Party from taking part in the coming election. To become the first political party ever banned by the Hong Kong Communist Colonial Government from joining a democratic election, we are honored.
Ever since stealing Hong Kong’s sovereignty 19 years ago, China has packaged council elections with “fake democracy,” and has prevented Hongkongers from taking control of the Legislative Council by means of unreasonable parliamentary rules, including bicameral voting mechanisms, functional constituency, etc., so that no policies beneficial to Hongkongers can be put into practice. Today the Hong Kong Communist Government even tore off the mask of “democratic election,” and wantonly violated human rights, actually hitting the bottom line of Hong Kong people’s patience. Our Party, therefore, calls upon all political parties supporting democracy to boycott the coming election.
Now that Hong Kong Communist Colonial Government has excluded us from election with the pretext of our “violating Article 1 of the Basic Law,” it may also invoke Article 23 to prevent Hongkongers in support of democracy, human rights and freedom from taking part in elections in the future.
Hong Kong National Party hereby reiterates that even though the Hong Kong Communist Colonial Government has banned us from the coming election, it cannot possibly stop the inevitable historical process of Hong Kong independence. Our Party will by no means back off. Oppression by the Hong Kong Communist Government all the more shows that our party’s tenet is what it fears. We swear to persist to the very end, until Hong Kong independence becomes reality. Our Party hereby calls upon Hong Kong students to extensively set up pro-Hong Kong independence political organizations in tertiary institutes and secondary schools. You are the future of Hong Kong. In the future, whether you end up being a blue-collar worker, or a white-collar employee, or a professional, please support and promote independence of Hong Kong, accumulate pro-independence force, and lay the foundation of Hong Kong Republic in your own sector.
In response to the Hong Kong Communist Colonial Government’s illegitimate move, our Party will take concrete actions. All citizens of Hong Kong please support us and pay attention.
Here is the disqualification letter issued to Chan Ho-tin:
Chan later “tore apart the letter from the Electoral Affairs Commission” at his press conference, claiming that “it is a piece of rubbish.”
“Because we didn’t bow down to the People’s Republic of China, they did not let us run,” he said. “As long as we don’t admit to be Chinese, they won’t let us enter the Legislative Council.” A protest was later held in front of the Chief Executive’s Office in the evening to protest against Chan’s disqualification.
A day later, another disqualification was handed out to pro-independence candidate Yeung Ke Chong of the Democratic Progressive Party of Hong Kong. Contending for the Kowloon West Constituency with Hong Kong Localism Power member Jonathan Ho Chi Kwong, Yeung stated on Facebook that his reason for being banned was his refusal to “uphold the Basic law.”
“I fully understand such a move does not comply with the requirement …and could ban me from running… but I think the relevant legal clauses have violated basic human rights and freedom of speech …On this basis I will launch a judicial review,” he said.
According to the SCMP, Yeung did not even sign “the standard nomination form as required by the Legislative Council Ordinance,” but instead submitted a “separate statement” to the Electoral Affairs Commission. He declared that the Basic Law does not apply to Hong Kong given the city’s current situation, which would make it “difficult for him to sincerely uphold it.”
Formed in March 2016, the Hong Kong National Party attracted controversy for its advocacy for separating Hong Kong from China, with one of its agendas calling to “abolish the illegitimate Basic Law and let Hongkongers make their own Constitution.” The Democratic Progressive Party of Hong Kong perceives China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong as “foreign” and “colonial” and supports self-determination against Beijing.
According to SCMP, City University political analyst James Sung Lap Kung believed the ban was used by the HKSAR government to “test the public’s reaction before deciding how they should handled other applicants.”
On the other hand, the ban might just make more difficulties for the government in handling candidates, as legal scholar Eric Cheung Tat Ming told SCMP that officers would now be tasked with evaluating candidates by “subjective” means, such as determining whether their political viewpoints comply with the “one country, two systems” principle.
In response to these fears, a government spokesman reassured everyone that only pro-independence entities have a high chance of disqualification because their platforms cross swords with the Basic Law’s interpretation of the city’s “constitutional and legal status.”
“Upholding the Basic Law is a basic legal duty of a legislator. If a person advocates or promotes the independence of the HKSAR, he cannot possibly uphold the Basic Law or fulfill his duties as a legislator,” the spokesman said.
Who’s next on the axing list?
By Arnie Yung
[Images from Stand News/ HK01/ Facebook/ Nanzao]