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Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Eligibility of disqualified lawmaker to run in Legco by-election will be examined, justice minister says

‘Legal issues’ surrounding Edward Yiu Chung-yim standing in coming poll discussed

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 January, 2018, 10:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 February, 2018, 4:24pm

The Department of Justice is studying the legal issues relating to the eligibility of a disqualified lawmaker to run in the upcoming Legislative Council by-elections, Hong Kong’s justice minister said on Sunday morning.

After a live programme at Commercial Radio, the newly appointed Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah said: “On the case of [Edward] Yiu Chung-yim, study is being conducted to look into the legal issues.” She did not provide further elaboration.

Academic Yiu, who was originally elected to represent the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sector in the Legislative Council in 2016, is among the six pro-democracy lawmakers stripped of their seats by High Court for failing to take their oath properly.

He won a landslide victory in the pan-democratic camp’s recent primary to run for the seat in Kowloon West vacated by another disqualified lawmaker, Yau Wai-ching, in the March 11 by-elections.

Yiu submitted his nomination form on Saturday without drama, but uncertainties remained as the government refused to offer a firm answer on whether he could secure a ticket or not.

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Ben Lei Chi-wing, assistant to Yiu, told the Post that Yiu’s team had tried to seek legal advice from the Nomination Advisory Committee through the Registration and Electoral Office before he submitted his nomination.

But he said the office told them the committee would only advise candidates of a Legco general election and by-election hopefuls should seek their own legal advice.

The office also cited the eligibility criteria stipulated in the Legislative Council Ordinance, which however did not state if a former lawmaker disqualified for taking an improper oath can run again.

Le said Yiu’s team had sought legal advice from two senior counsels, who gave positive replies.

“They said Yiu can run and they cannot see any possibility of him being disqualified,” Lei said.

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On January 17, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said Yiu’s eligibility should be decided by the returning officer, and as chief executive, she could not state or promise who could or could not run.

“The returning officer is an administrative officer, while the secretary for justice is a political appointee. So the question is, should the secretary for justice leave the matter of eligibility to the returning officer and avoid arousing suspicion of political consideration?” Lee said on behalf of Yiu.

Yiu’s rival in Kowloon West is Vincent Cheng Wing-shun of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong

The March by-elections will refill four of the six concerned seats. The fate of the remaining two is to be determined later on account of ongoing appeals.

On Sunday, former democrat, now independent Nelson Wong Sing-chi announced his bid to be the ninth candidate for the New Territories East seat.

The 60-year-old vowed to “fight the last battle” after 35 years in local politics, with an ideal to “restore the pragmatism and rationality long lost in the deteriorating bipolarisation and radicalisation”. Wong said he would formally submit his nomination form to the returning officer in “two or three days”.

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Wong, who was expelled from the Democratic Party in 2015 for openly arguing to accept the restrictions set by Beijing on the universal suffrage of chief executive if the nomination committee could be chosen by a wider base of voters, did not join the pro-democracy camp’s primary, which was won by Gary Fan Kwok-wai, a current member of the Sai Kung District Council from the Neo Democrats. Bill Tang Ka-piu of the Federation of Trade Unions is considered Fan’s major rival from the pro-establishment camp.

The other contestants are Christine Fong Kwok-shan, James Chan Kwok-keung, Jenny Chan Yuk-ngor, Chiu Pui-yuk, Alex Li Tak-Ho and Ventus Lau Wing-hong.