Hong Kong’s Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) passed a new measure on Thursday, requiring Legislative Council candidates to sign a declaration that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China. But one political scientist believes many independence advocates will seek judicial reviews to get their nomination accepted for the Legco elections in September.
Chinese University political analyst Ivan Choy Chi-keung says the government’s move mainly targets the localists who call for self-determination and separation from the mainland.
“It’s obvious that this is a response to radical activists who want to push their ideas by competing for seats in Legco,” says Choy. “It will add a layer of uncertainty to the race, because candidates will lodge judicial reviews if their nomination is cancelled or they are deemed to have made a false statement.”
Choy added that: “If a localist wins a judicial review against the EAC’s decision, it could cause some embarrassing situations, such as re-running the 2016 Legco Election.”
The current system already requires Legco candidates to sign a declaration in the nomination form to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to Hong Kong. The new measure requires them to sign an additional form to confirm clear understanding of the mini-constitution, mainly concerning Hong Kong’s status as a special administrative region of China.
Those who sign the declaration could face criminal sanctions if they are found to have lied.
Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai criticised Thursday’s move as “censorship of political ideas” and a breach of “freedom of thought”.
Independence advocate Edward Leung Tin-kei, who is planning to run for Legco, said he had decided not to sign the form after consulting lawyers. “If I have to sign it to get my nomination accepted, I will seek a judicial review,” he said. “I will still speak of my ideal at election forums because this is my freedom of thought.”
Pro-Beijing lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king said the new rule was reasonable, because legislators would have to pledge allegiance to the Basic Law after being elected anyway.
Meanwhile, Demosisto, a new political party formed by four Occupy student leaders, announced its decision on Thursday to drop vice-chairman Oscar Lai Man-lok and field only one candidate in the election.