Hong Kong pan-dems to snub election run for deputies to China’s NPC after change in rules

Member from camp says amendments mean they can no longer raise suggestions on country’s constitutional changes even if elected

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 9:41pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 November, 2017, 12:00am

Hong Kong’s pan-democratic camp is expected to snub next month’s poll for local deputies to the ­National People’s Congress ­following a change in rules ­requiring candidates to ­support the national ­constitution and the Basic Law.

After previous attempts to win seats fell far short in a National People’s Congress election stacked against them, Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said on Friday that his members would not run and other names from the camp were also not interested.

That is despite some 200 people from the pan-democratic bloc having made it to the 1,989-member election committee that will choose the 36 Hong Kong deputies for the congress, giving the camp some power to influence the election result.

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“After internal discussions, the Democratic Party has decided not to run in the election this year,” Wu said on Friday.

He said his party was concerned about a change in candidate criteria. According to the new rules, candidates must declare that they espouse mainland China’s constitution and the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

“If we sign the declaration, it means we can no longer raise suggestions on the country’s constitutional changes,” Wu said, adding that “building a democratic China” was one of the principles written in his party’s constitution.

“We ran before as we wanted to bring Hong Kong issues up to the national level,” he said. “It has proven to be useless from previous experiences.”

In 2008, the pan-democratic camp sent four people to run in the election, including James To Kun-sun and Frederick Fung Kin-kee. But the camp has never secured any seats in the NPC.

Pan-democrats will hold further discussions before deciding on voting tactics. The camp has more votes this year than in previous years.

The nomination period will begin later this month, with the election to take place on December 19.

Pro-establishment figure Michael Tien Puk-sun has made clear that he will seek re-election. Tien, also a Legislative Council member in Hong Kong, said he would be able to split time between the legislatures of Hong Kong and mainland China.

But other NPC deputies have reportedly told Beijing that Tien should not be re-elected because of his outspokenness.

Tien had earlier written to the NPC asking Beijing to come clean on the disappearance of Hong Kong bookseller Lee Po, who ran a shop specialising in publications critical of the Communist Party.

Meanwhile, NPC Standing Committee member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said her son, Andrew Fan Chun-wah, is planning to run for the election.

“He intends to run in the election. But I shouldn’t be the one to talk about this. I don’t want him to receive special treatment because he is my son,” she said on Friday.

She added that every candidate should embark on an individual effort to rally support from election committee members.

Andrew Fan, 38, is a certified accountant. He is also a Zhejiang provincial member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body.

Familiar faces including Fan, Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun, Maria Tam Wai-chu and Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun have already stated they will not seek re-election.

Tam Yiu-chung, former chairman of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, as well as Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, formerly Hong Kong’s secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, have expressed interest in running.

Phila Siu is reporting from Beijing