Hong Kong voters face dilemma with candidate bans

  • Disqualification of poll hopefuls by both the government and the opposition may result in the local electorate having few people to choose from
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2018, 7:43pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2018, 10:38pm

You have to feel sorry for Lee Cheuk-yan. What wouldn’t the 61-year-old do to get back into the Legislative Council? The veteran unionist and former lawmaker scuffled with security guards and had to be forcibly removed, along with Labour Party comrade Lau Siu-lai, at a government briefing for next month’s by-election.

Even for street protester extraordinaire “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, 62, the body-slamming days with the police are over. Lee usually prefers to shout slogans on stage rather than fight security staff.

But the guy owes Lau what is possibly his last chance to get back his cushy job in the Legislative Council. Lau wanted to make a stand at a meeting with the Electoral Affairs Commission, which earlier disqualified her from entering the West Kowloon by-election on November 25 for her alleged stance on self-determination and independence. The meeting was to provide guidelines on activities related to elections and arrangements for candidates and their agents.

The seat is vacant because Lau was earlier disqualified from Legco for failing to take a proper oath of office. The government seems determined to bar her from entering any election. However, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a former member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said the latest ban didn’t have to be permanent, whatever that means.

Disqualification of candidates must be able to stand legal test

Lee could hardly fold his arms and look on at the meeting once Lau decided to gatecrash the meeting. But, of course, the government is not the only one disqualifying candidates. Pan-democratic elders can hardly get on their high horse and not look silly and hypocritical. After all, they have carried out their own version of disqualification against a former comrade, Frederick Fung Kin-kee, who will now enter the by-election as an independent.

Previously, the opposition said it was committed to running so-called primaries to preselect candidates for Legco elections. Somehow, operating like the “small circles” they so often denounce, its kingmakers decided among themselves to make Lee the “plan B” candidate if Lau was disqualified.

Once Fung pointed out the obvious unfairness and announced he would run without any party backing, the most extraordinarily vicious campaign of defamation, slander, criticism and back-stabbing was launched for months to discredit him.

The way things are going, the local electorate will have few viable candidates to choose from in future after rounds of “disqualification” by the government and the opposition.