Localist candidates still not on Legislative Council ballot as nominations close
Hong Kong Indigenous strikes deal with other nativists to make sure one side makes the polls
The fate of eight radical localists who plan to run in September’s Legislative Council polls is up in the air as the electoral office had not yet validated their candidacies by the close of the nomination period on Friday.
Some were already looking at alternative strategies. One of them, who was forced to give up his stance on Hong Kong independence, came up with a new plan in the hope of getting an ally into the legislature.
A record number of 153 candidate lists have been submitted to the Electoral Affairs Commission for September, compared with 137 in 2012.
The polls on September 4, for a 3.77 million-strong electorate, will mark a turning point in Hong Kong’s political history, as a fifth of the previous incumbents have stepped down to make way for a younger generation.
Some 12 of the 70 Legco seats for the taking are set to be returned uncontested.
It will also be the last showdown between pan-democrats and pro-establishment bloc before the city’s leader is elected in March. The pan-democrats are fighting to keep their critical one-third minority in the legislature to block any significant government bill – on political reform or national security, for instance – they deem unacceptable.
The limelight so far has been on several new localist groups, some of whom advocate independence for the city.
Targeting independence advocates, the election watchdog has made all Legco aspirants sign a new form acknowledging Hong Kong as an inalienable part of China, in addition to the standard declaration to uphold the Basic Law. The measure, seen by critics as censorship of political thought and suppression of the right to stand for election, is now being challenged in court by three potential candidates.
While the commission has already validated nominations for most candidates of established pan-democratic parties, it has not yet done so for eight radical localists, whether they have signed the new form or not.
One of them, Edward Leung Tin-kei of Hong Kong Indigenous, did not hear from the electoral commission even though he had made a U-turn on Thursday, signing the new form and dropping his pro-independence stance to avoid disqualification.
The commission said a full list of validated candiates would be published later. Seven other radical localists, including the Hong Kong National Party’s Chan Ho-tin, one from Youngspiration and five from the alliance formed by Civic Passion, Proletariat Political Institute and Hong Kong Resurgence Order, had also not had their bids accepted.
Leung, who would stand a high chance of winning as he bagged 15.4 per cent of votes in a by-election in February, has come up with a backup plan with another localist group, Youngspiration, in the event that his candidacy is not validated.
On Friday, the two groups joined hands and Youngspiration convenor Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chun-hang pulled out of his group’s election list in New Territories West and applied to run in Leung’s constituency, New Territories East, along with a former member of Hong Kong Indigenous.
Explaining their move, Hong Kong Indigenous spokesman Ray Wong Toi-yeung said if Edward Leung’s bid were rejected, then his group would focus all its resources on the backup list.
Baggio Leung said he still sincerely hoped that Edward Leung would be able to run.
“If Edward Leung’s candidacy is validated, we will use all possible legal means to help him become elected,” he said, adding that independence would not be a part of their election platform and that the duo would not sign the new confirmation form.
“Since [my original candidacy] in New Territories West was approved, I cannot see how [the returning officer] can use another set of standards to reject my candidacy in New Territories East,” he said.
New Territories East will be the hottest battlefield, with 24 candidate lists competing for nine seats.
The electoral commission is supposed to complete all candidate validations by next Tuesday, when it will give a briefing to candidates.
Additional reporting by Tony Cheung