It is wrong for localists in Hong Kong to be singled out and barred from election

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 4:36pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 11:30pm

I am appalled that localists have been unreasonably disqualified as candidates for this year’s Legislative Council election.

The Electoral Affairs Commission cited their advocacy of the city’s independence as a violation of the Basic Law, leading to their disqualification.

One of those barred from standing is Edward Leung Tin-kei of the Hong Kong Indigenous party. Despite his pledge to uphold the Basic Law and sign the new confirmation form, the returning officer for the New Territories East constituency did not think Mr Leung had genuinely changed his previous stance for independence, thus turning down his candidacy.

In fact, a number of candidates for the Legco election hold political views similar to those of Mr Leung and other nativists. Most pro-democracy figures who are bidding for seats in the legislature have refused to sign the new form, which requires candidates to uphold three specific articles of the Basic Law. In spite of this, their candidacies remain valid. So I have doubts about why Mr Leung, who ran in a Legco by-election earlier this year, and other localists have been singled out and deprived of their right to be elected.

I am sure many readers oppose Hong Kong’s independence from China, and I share their concerns. However, it is of the utmost importance to ensure equal opportunities for all citizens, regardless of their political views, to participate in a fair and democratic election. This is guaranteed in the Basic Law.

In this context, vetting of candidates on the basis of individuals’ political views is illegitimate and unacceptable.

Although there is no universal suffrage for selecting our chief executive, and functional constituencies in the legislature remain controversial, the integrity of Hong Kong’s embattled democracy must not be further undermined with political screening of this kind.

Ben L. P. Tsang, Yuen Long