At a press conference, Hong Kong Executive Councilor Carrie Lam said the decision to postpone the Legislative Council elections, scheduled for September 6, was the most difficult decision she had made in seven months. He added that he had the support of the Chinese central government to make this decision.
Lam said the delay was needed to protect public health and ensure fair elections.
“The new wave of epidemics can take several weeks or even longer. Even if the previous experience of April or May, even if the epidemic stabilizes, society will take some time to recover. “Experts say it is not immediate that effective vaccines will be developed and supplied; otherwise, a winter outbreak is likely to occur by the end of the year,”; Lam said.
He invoked a colonial-era emergency ordinance to postpone local elections.
Under the Basic Law: the Hong Kong mini constitution. The Legislative Council has a term of four years. Therefore, Lam said he has directed the central People’s Government to get guidance on how to deal with this one-year “gap”. He said Beijing will appear before the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to make a decision.
Lam said that while it does not correspond to her, she believes a logical solution would be to allow the current Legislative Council to continue for next year.
Some pro-democracy activists, including Joshua Wong, have claimed that the government is using the pandemic as an excuse to postpone the crucial elections for Hong Kong indefinitely.
They have accused the government of wanting to prevent a possible loss after China imposed a new national security law on the city, banning secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
The Democratic camp had shown its prospect of winning a majority in the 70-member Legislative Council polls this September.
Opposition parties have called for a wave of discontent with the government to secure a historic victory in the semi-democratic legislature, where just under half of the seats are controlled by so-called functional constituencies, which represent business groups. and society and usually government. .
Last year, pro-democracy candidates won a landslide victory in local council elections. A result similar to the legislative council could put them in a position to force a constitutional crisis by blocking the budget and pressuring Lam to resign. Both the Chinese and Hong Kong governments have suggested that this plan could be illegal under the new national security law.
In a statement, the Hong Kong government said it supported the decisions by returning officials to “invalidate 12 candidates in this year’s Legislative Council general election” (LegCo).
He said the candidates had been banned because they felt they would not abide by the Basic Law, the de facto constitution of Hong Kong, and suggested that they could be further disqualified in the future.
The government said it “respects and safeguards the legal rights of Hong Kong people, including the right to vote and the right to stand for election.”
Several letters posted online by unqualified candidates for officers informing them of their decision cited the previous opposition to the security law as the reason for the move.
“The excuse they use is that I describe (the security law) a draconian law, which shows that I don’t support that teaching law,” Wong said.
Another unqualified candidate, Dennis Kwok, was banned for expressing intent to use his position as a legislator “in a way that forces the government to adhere to certain demands,” effectively the job of a legislator. of the opposition in the majority. democratic countries.
This full story has been updated with additional reports.
Hong Kong journalist Phoebe Lai contributed to the publication of reports.