Lawyers are not the sole arbiters of who should stand in Legco elections: it’s a matter for us all

Independence advocates may want to start a revolution, but we are not politically, legally and morally obligated to let them wreak havoc

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 August, 2016, 12:24am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 August, 2016, 3:51am

Oh, the arrogant presumption of some lawyers.

This week, all 30 members of the legal sub-sector of the 1,200-strong Election Committee that picked Hong Kong’s leader in 2012 criticised the government for banning individuals from entering elections based on their political stance. In a joint statement, they claimed returning officers were not empowered to make such a “subjective and political decision”.

So far, six pro-independence activists have been barred from running in next month’s Legislative Council elections. The decisions by the returning officers were of course political, but that doesn’t mean it’s illegal, as those lawyers have claimed. As for their being subjective decisions, the lawyers’ criticism is just incoherent. How is it subjective if those activists have said they advocate independence and returning officers believe they do?

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The case of Hong Kong Indigenous’ Edward Leung Tin-kei appears to present a problem, because he has on record claimed he has renounced his independence stance. But no one believes he has done so, least of all his supporters. He is lying through his teeth while winking at us.

Those decisions by the returning officers are of course political because the issue of independence for Hong Kong cuts right to the very foundation of our constitutional order. The Basic Law stipulates “one country, two systems” but expressly states that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China.

Everything else flows from these two stipulations, including the rule of law, an independent judiciary and an executive-led government.

Should we allow those who seek the overthrow of our constitutional order and government system to serve as legislators? Reasonable people may and do disagree on this point. But it is such a fundamental question that it concerns all Hong Kong citizens, not just those self-important lawyers who claim special expertise in this matter.

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It has been argued that those secessionists are not seeking independence now, but only after 2047 when “one country two systems” will have come to an end.

If that’s really the case, why are we tearing ourselves apart over something decades away? Clearly whatever they say, our young secessionists want to bring that date forward, which again means undermining our government system.

They may want to start a revolution, but we are not obligated – politically, legally and morally – to let them wreak havoc. Quite the contrary.