Friday, 15 July 2016

Hong Kong Moving the Goal Posts

The Electoral Affairs Commission is changing the rules of candidate elegibility
The two-week nomination for candidates to run in the upcoming Legislative Council elections on September 4 has started, but the Hong Kong government has put up a new roadblock.

Apart from candidates having to make the standard declaration to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the city, the Electoral Affairs Commission now says candidates have to sign a second form agreeing to Hong Kong being an inalienable part of China or face disqualification.

It seems the government is trying to screen out people -- ie localists who are running on platforms promoting separatism or returning to colonial rule -- even before they try to go out on the hustings.

Localists like Edward Leung may be disqualified for his views
The reactions are predictable -- the pan-democrats are up in arms, calling it political censorship -- which it is -- and are not ruling out a judicial review of the electoral commission if it does not clearly spell out the consequences if a candidate does not sign the second form.

Is the commission allowed to create such forms on a whim? Do these forms have any legal basis?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen denied political censorship, and said candidates could submit their nomination without signing the new form, but that could be a factor in deciding whether to approve the applicant's candidacy or not.

Other senior government officials, like vice-chairwoman of the Basic Law Committee for the National People's Congress and former Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie says the second form just repeats the requirement that all candidates swear their allegiance to Hong Kong.

Elsie Leung says pledging allegiance to Hong Kong is normal
It's obvious the government (or Beijing) is not taking any chances to jinx the upcoming elections. What does the pro-Beijing camp have to worry about? The pan-democratic camp is more splintered than ever with so many different political parties.

If the government and Beijing were really concerned about knowing what Hong Kong people think about how they are being governed, then they would allow all these candidates to run and see what the results were after the election.

It is the best way to gauge the electorate, as this year there will probably be a lot of young people casting votes because they want a greater say in their future.

But it seems the government is too insecure to let any candidate run and wants to control the process. How is that democratic? This is one of the last bastions of where Hong Kong people can exercise their right to vote and already it's being screened...

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