Two radical Hong Kong localists await their fate while a third Legco candidate is banned
But the Electoral Affairs Commission validates five more independence supporters, clearing at least nine to run in elections
The fate of all but two high-profile radical localists planning to run in next month’s Legislative Council elections was certain last night, ahead of a briefing by the polling watchdog for validated candidates today.
Edward Leung Tin-kei and his ally Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang were still waiting for a reply from the Electoral Affairs Commission as it validated five other localists yesterday and disqualified a third candidate advocating separatism for Hong Kong.
That brought the total number of validated localist candidates to at least nine.
One of them, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, a student leader of the Occupy movement in 2014, accused the watchdog of “political censorship” as it withheld approval for his promotional leaflet in order to seek legal advice over words such as “self-determination” and “civil referendum”.
“If the electoral office doesn’t reply to me tomorrow, we won’t have enough time to get the leaflets printed and we may not be able to mail them to voters before election day,” Law said last night.
Edward Leung added: “The government is playing tricks like this. I have nothing to say.”
The biggest sticking point in the nomination stage has been a controversial change to election rules targeting independence advocates. In addition to the standard declaration form upholding the Basic Law, potential candidates also have to sign a new form reinforcing their acceptance that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China.
Rejected candidates are seeking to challenge the new rule in court and eyeing the possibility of by-elections, should the court later declare it unconstitutional.
By close of business yesterday, Edward Leung, who dropped his stance for Hong Kong independence last week to try to avoid being barred from the race, had not heard from the Electoral Affairs Commission.
The commission said that today was not the deadline for candidacy validation, despite the scheduled briefing.
Leung, of Hong Kong Indigenous, had vowed to pursue independence but made a U-turn last week after a returning officer urged him to clarify his position before determining the validity of his candidacy. He subsequently signed the new form.
Baggio Leung of Youngspiration, had not received confirmation about his candidacy either. He joined the fray as a back-up in case Leung was disqualified.
While Edward Leung and two pan-democrats sought a judicial review over the legality of the confirmation form last week, arguing it was political censorship and a suppression of people’s right to stand for election, the court refused to grant an immediate hearing before their candidacy was determined.
Leung had also complained that the prolonged uncertainty over his candidacy was unfair as he was lost as to how he should continue his campaign.
While the two Leungs were waiting last night, another independence advocate, Nakade Hitsujiko, a Hong Kong resident previously surnamed Chung, had his candidacy rejected even though he signed the new form.
“I will see if I can work with other rejected candidates in mounting a legal challenge over the new rule,” Hitsujiko, 24, said.
Chan Ho-tin of the Hong Kong National Party and Yeung Ke-cheong of the Democratic Progressive Party were rejected earlier. Yeung was the only one among the three who did not sign even the standard declaration.