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Legislative Council elections 2016

Electoral Commission accused of ‘political screening’ and double standards in approval process for leaflets by Legco candidates

Pro-democracy candidates have accused the election watchdog of applying inconsistent standards on promotional material in the lead up to the Legislative Council election

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2016, 7:33am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2016, 8:26am

Questions have surfaced over how the Electoral Affairs Commission is vetting promotional leaflets for the upcoming Legislative Council election with a number of pro-democracy candidates alleging that different standards have been applied to the process.

While two pro-democracy candidates are still awaiting the election watchdog’s approval of their leaflets, which contain words such as “self-determination”, Democracy Groundwork’s Lau Siu-lai said her leaflets had already received approval despite containing similar phrases.

Lau said her leaflets had been approved by the commission last Thursday, just days after they were submitted.

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The pro-democracy activist said her material contained phrases such as “self-determination” and “democratically amend the Basic Law”.

The damage they have done to the fairness of the election could be irreparable.

“It’s really strange that I got the approval,” she said. “It’s very clear from this that [the commission] is engaging in political screening and that they are picking on certain candidates.”

On Monday, Demosisto’s Nathan Law Kwun-chung accused the election watchdog of political censorship after it withheld approval of his promotional leaflets while the commission sought legal advice over words such as “self-determination” and “civil referendum”.

The commission is also withholding approval for pro-democracy activist Chu Hoi-dick’s promotional material on a similar basis.

Law, a student leader of the 2014 Occupy movement, said he was not certain why different standards were being applied, but suspected that he and Chu were being targeted for their long-term involvement in social movements.

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The Demosisto candidate stressed that the delay had greatly affected his campaign.

“The post office said we have to give them all the promotional leaflets by next Friday. But since we don’t have approval yet, we might not be able have them ready by then,” he said. “As a result, it’s possible that not all voters will receive our leaflet.”

Chu, meanwhile, said he will submit two amended versions of his leaflets to the commission in a bid to gain approval.

Human rights lawyer Chong Yiu-kwong said the differential treatment has affected the fairness of the whole election.

“[The government] has failed to be consistent,” he said. “The damage they have done to the fairness of the election could be irreparable.”