‘I was disqualified’: second Hong Kong localist candidate barred from running in Legco elections
Yeung Ke-cheong did not pledge to uphold Basic Law
A second localist candidate was disqualified from running in the upcoming Legislative Council elections after he did not pledge to uphold the city’s mini-constitution.
The invalidation of Yeung Ke-cheong’s candidacy in Kowloon West came just one day after Chan Ho-tin, convenor of the Hong Kong National Party, was banned from the race by the Electoral Affairs Commission for “violating Basic Law”, the city’s mini-constitution since its handover in 1997.
Yeung, of the Democratic Progressive Party of Hong Kong, was positioned second on a candidate list with Jonathan Ho Chi-kwong in Kowloon West. Ho’s nomination was validated, but Yeung’s was not.
“I was disqualified as I deliberately stated that I would not uphold the Basic Law and thus did not sign the relevant statement,” Yeung wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday.
Both Ho and Yeung did not sign the additional declaration form introduced by Electoral Affairs Commission weeks ago which reinforces acknowledgement that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China, while the latter even refused to sign the standard nomination form required by the Legislative Council Ordinance.
Section 40(1)(b) of the ordinance states that a person’s candidacy will not be validated unless his nomination form includes a declaration that he will uphold the Basic Law and pledges allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Instead, Yeung submitted to the watchdog a separate statement asserting that the city’s mini-constitution no longer applied to the situation in Hong Kong today and thus it would be difficult for him to sincerely uphold it.
“I fully understand such a move does not comply with the requirement ...and could ban me from running,” Yeung wrote in the statement. “But I think the relevant legal clauses have violated basic human rights and freedom of speech ...On this basis I will launch a judicial review.”
Meanwhile, Chan, who was disqualified on Saturday even he had signed the required form , vowed on Sunday to stage a series of actions to “subvert” the polls.
“I have already signed the form but [the returning officer] suggested my pledge is not sincere enough. Apparently the decision has nothing to do with law but political views,” Chan told RTHK’s City Forum on Sunday.
Chan said the precedent was dangerous as the ban could be extended in future to candidates who opposed the Communist Party or the chief executive.
“We will soon launch a series of actions to subvert the elections which will largely undermine the legitimacy of the polls,” Chan warned as he vowed to challenge the decision in court via a judicial review or election petition.
Crossing swords with Chan in the forum, Beijing loyalist Wong Kwan-yu, a member of the Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee, said the “reasonable” decision by the returning officer had sent a very strong message to the city: “Separatists would be banned from the political arena.”
Brave Chan Yung, a National People’s Congress delegate, went further by comparing Chan and his allies with terrorism, claiming countries including Britain and Canada would exhaust every means to combat terrorist activities and separatism.
University of Hong Kong legal scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting, who founded the Occupy movement in 2014, said there was no clause in the Basic Law that allowed the government to ban separatist hopefuls from elections – unless the mini-constitution was amended.
“I do not think the returning officer has any power to screen candidates on the basis of their political opinion,” he said. “There will be a very high chance the court may strike down the decision of the returning officer in the election petition [filed by Chan].”
Tai said the ban was a huge blow to the legitimacy of the elections.
“We can see from the recent survey that there might be 17 per cent of the population who support or show sympathy to independence. If you do not allow any candidate advocating that kind of view to participate in the election, [it] surely will not be able to fully reflect the different views of Hong Kong people.”