No plan to unseat Eddie Chu from Legco, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says of lawmaker barred from rural election over independence views
- Chief executive says officials will review the laws on elections and whether they need to be ‘rationalised’
- Pro-Beijing politicians have called for Chu to be removed from Legco
Hong Kong’s leader has said her administration has no plan to unseat Eddie Chu Hoi-dick from the legislature after the lawmaker was disqualified from running in a rural representative election over his stance on independence and self-determination for the city.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday said authorities would instead review the legislation on local elections and whether it had to be “rationalised”.
Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a local delegate to China’s national legislature, has called for Chu to be removed from the city’s Legislative Council for his views on Hong Kong independence.
Lam was twice on Tuesday questioned on whether the government was planning a move against Chu.
“Mr Eddie Chu, at the moment, is a Legco member. It is not for me as the chief executive to say whether he is qualified to be one,” she said.
There was “no plan” to change his status as a lawmaker, she added.
Chu was disqualified on Sunday from running for an election to choose the head of non-indigenous villagers at Yuen Kong Sun Tsuen in Yuen Long, after he was twice questioned by returning officer Enoch Yuen Ka-lok about his political beliefs.
Despite Chu repeatedly saying he was not in favour of Hong Kong independence, Yuen suggested Chu had “implicitly” confirmed his support for the possibility of the city breaking away from China.
Lam said Yuen’s decision had been made in accordance with the Rural Representative Election Ordinance.
According to the ordinance, only those willing to uphold the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region are allowed to run. The Basic Law states that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China.
In a document sent to Chu on Sunday, Yuen suggested it was doubtful whether Chu had genuine intentions to uphold the law.
Lam ruled out issuing guidelines to returning officers, saying the handling of electoral applications could not be determined by strict and rigid protocol.
She said the administration would conduct an internal review on whether existing legislation on elections had to be “rationalised”.
“Because of the events that have taken place in the last couple of years, there is a need … to review existing legislation and arrangements, to ensure they can respond to the latest situations,” Lam said.
Chu is the 10th person since 2016 to be disqualified from running for election over issues to do with allegiance. The other nine cases involved Legco polls.
Meanwhile, pro-Beijing lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, said the government should revise election laws to ban candidates who support calls for independence or self-determination.
Speaking on a radio programme on Tuesday, Leung said such revisions should be extended to election laws on all levels, including Legco, district councils, rural committees, and the 1,200-strong committee that selects the city’s leader.
Leung added that calling for self-determination was no different from calling for independence, as the former applied only to nations with sovereignty.
“It’s another way of supporting Hong Kong independence,” she said.
The controversy over Chu’s case stemmed from the lack of clear laws, she added, and if the government did not revise legislation accordingly, more disqualifications would follow in next year’s citywide district council elections.
“If you want to participate in the political game ... you need to understand this is the rule of the game,” Leung said.
In the Legco elections of 2016, Chu emerged as the “king of votes” in a surprise landslide victory by securing more than 84,000 ballots in the New Territories West constituency. He has been an outspoken critic on village affairs, and claimed to have received death threats for taking on vested interests.
Last month, Chu vowed to take his fight to rural patriarchs and “democratise and reform rural governance” with an alliance to contest village elections.