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Legislative Council elections 2016

Independence talk takes centre stage at Legco electoral forums

Instead of elaborating on their platform ideas, candidates levelled criticisms at one another over hot-button topic

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 7:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 8:03am

Election forums meant for Legislative Council candidates to elaborate on the platforms they are running on have been reduced to debates over Hong Kong’s independence.

At a TVB forum for Kowloon East constituency on Sunday, pro-independence localist candidate Chan Chak-to of Kowloon East Community group declared: “I support Hong Kong independence.”

His claim immediately triggered criticisms from rival Patrick Ko Tat-pun of Voice of Loving Hong Kong, who warned he would report it to the police and the electoral watchdog. “It is in breach of the law,” Ko said.

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Democrat Wu Chi-wai also weighed in, questioning Chan if he could provide a roadmap and timetable for Hong Kong to break away from China.

Chan rejected the idea that a roadmap was needed.

“Hong Kong people’s support is the most important. World peace is also difficult to achieve. But we would support it. Having a plan [on how to achieve it] or not is irrelevant,” argued Chan.

He had earlier said he advocated self-determination and would not promote independence in the capacity of a candidate. But he became more vocal in supporting the idea of independence after his nomination was approved despite his refusal to sign the new electoral form to confirm full understanding of the Basic Law.

Wu also blamed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying for the rise of the pro-independence sentiment, saying Leung had invited Beijing to interfere with Hong Kong affairs, citing the new electoral form to screen out pro-independence advocates.

Separately, at a RTHK election forum for Kowloon West constituency on Sunday, pro-independence localist candidate Yau Wai-ching of Youngspiration found herself between a rock and a hard place, with rival candidates from both the pan-democracy and pro-establishment camps levelling criticism at her.

Yau claimed she would be “cruel” to the “Chinese Communist-backed” Hong Kong government if she entered the legislature.

Avery Ng Man-yuen of the radical pan-democratic League of Social Democrats criticised Yau for her “empty talk”. And in a rare show of unity, Priscilla Leung Mei-fun of pro-government Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong also said Yau’s “dream” could lead Hong Kong to nowhere.

Seemingly not fully prepared for the TV debate, Yau at times struggled to come up with a response.

Asked if she would throw bricks inside the Legislative Council chamber to show she would be “cruel” to the government, she replied: “How can I find a brick to throw in the chamber? There is no brick in the chamber.”

On Hong Kong’s economy, she also claimed that it could improve if the city’s people were allowed to determine their future.

Tik Chi-yuen of the middle-of-the-road party Third Side also encountered difficulties during the two-hour forum. He was criticised as being “pro-establishment in disguise” because of his moderate stance towards Beijing.

There are in total 12 lists of 22 candidates competing for five seats of the Kowloon East constituency. In the Kowloon West constituency, there are a total of 15 lists of 37 candidates racing for six seats.

For a full list of candidates, see http://multimedia.scmp.com/legcocandidates/