Election pamphlets of another Hong Kong candidate allegedly rejected for distribution

League of Social Democrats’ chairman Avery Ng Man-yuen is second contender to reportedly have his materials barred by Housing Deparment

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2016, 2:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2016, 10:30pm

A pro-democracy candidate has accused the Housing Department of not approving election pamphlets for containing the phrase “Hong Kong independence”.

League of Social Democrats’ chairman Avery Ng Man-yuen, running in Kowloon West in the September 4 Legislative Council elections, is the second candidate to reportedly have pamphlets rejected by the Housing Department for distribution in public housing estates.

Staging a protest outside the department’s headquarters in Ho Man Tin on Wednesday, Ng said the department on August 11 had agreed to his volunteers distributing 30,000 to 40,000 pamphlets to residents’ mailboxes in Cheung Sha Wan public housing estates.

“But on August 16, Kai Ching Estate’s office told me we cannot do it anymore because our pamphlets mentioned ‘self-determination and independence’,” Ng said. “Now the department said [it needs] to seek the electoral watchdog’s advice and our pamphlets cannot be distributed.”

It comes after Kowloon East candidate Chan Chak-to said his pamphlets were also rejected by the Housing Department earlier this month because they stated “independence is the only way to let Hongkongers really have a say” on the city’s problems.

Ng complained his pamphlets did not advocate independence, but stated only his stance that “self-determination should include independence as an option”. It also stated that his rival, Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching, supports “Hong Kong nationalism and self-determination”, while the pan-democratic hopefuls do not support Hong Kong independence.

Another version of Ng’s pamphlets, which stated that Hong Kong people “have the right to be independent from Beijing’s tyranny”, was approved by the electoral watchdog and mailed to voters in the constituency earlier.

“The Housing Department is most shameless ... Civil servants should be politically neutral, they should not destroy the fairness of the election,” Ng said.

A spokesman for the Housing Department said it is still “processing” Ng’s pamphlets. “Our policy is that pamphlets must not contain any illegal messages,” he added.

Separately, a spokeswoman for the Hongkong Post said it received 186 sets of election pamphlets from 133 lists of candidates.

The Electoral Affairs Commission and Hongkong Post have also come under fire for making controversial decisions regarding localist candidates.

The EAC disqualified six candidates, including Hong Kong Indigenous’ Edward Leung Tin-kei, from the Legco polls over their pro-independence stance.

On Hong Kong Island, while the candidacy of Demosisto chairman Nathan Law Kwun-chung, a student leader during the 2014 Occupy protests, was approved, Hongkong Post had sought legal advice from the Department of Justice regarding Law’s campaign pamphlets mentioning phrases such as “self-determination” before agreeing to mail them.

A new version of Law’s pamphlets was approved after the party replaced the phrases in question with icons such as the sun, moon and stars.

The incident prompted Chan and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang to remove any ­sensitive phrases from their leaflets in order to meet Hongkong Post’s submission deadline earlier this month for all candidates’ material.