Hong Kong's current Legco members will continue to serve for one year, says Beijing

  • The election originally scheduled for September was postponed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam due to the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Pro-democratic lawmakers who were banned from running in the elections still don't know their fates 
Wong Tsui-kai |

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Beijing announced that the current Legco members will continue in their positions for another year. Photo: SCMP/ Nora Tam

The term of the current members of the Legislative Council, Hong Kong’s lawmaking body, will be extended by one year following the postponement of the elections.

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) in Beijing has decided to allow serving legislators to continue in their posts, but this leaves several question marks. One is the fate of four current lawmakers – Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Kwok Ka-ki and Dennis Kwok of the Civic Party, and the accountancy sector’s Kenneth Leung – who were barred from running in the upcoming elections, which would have been held next month.

The elections were postponed for at least a year by the city government headed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, citing public health reasons caused by the pandemic. 

The NPCSC resolution also does not provide any legal rationale for extending the current Legco term, which expires on September 30, nor does it explain how the move is consistent with Article 69 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which states that the tenure of office for Legco shall be four years.

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“According to the decision, after September 30, 2020, the sixth Legco of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will continue to perform its duties for not less than a year, until the start of the term of the seventh Legco,” the decision read.

“After the seventh Legco is formed in accordance with the law, its term would still be four years.”

In a joint statement, 22 pan-democratic lawmakers criticised Beijing’s move, arguing it had contravened the Basic Law. The decision means a debate over whether opposition lawmakers should serve out their extended term, or resign collectively, will continue. 

Previously, pro-Beijing figures had said the barred candidates should be removed from the new legislature, while an anonymous establishment figure said Beijing made the decision to avoid provoking the United States, which is gearing up for a presidential election in November.