It seems the Electoral Affairs Commission’s (EAC) new measure, which requires those intending to run in the upcoming Legco election to sign a declaration pledging allegiance to the Basic Law, has created more problems than solutions for the administration.
I can understand the mindset of the decision-makers who came up with such an idea: they want to exclude separatists from our legislature so that they cannot preach their pro-independence cause freely and legitimately as lawmakers.
Such drastic measure might work in other places, but definitely not in Hong Kong, where people see the freedom of expression as one of their core values, and where people have a natural-born defiance towards dictatorship and political censorship.
I am not surprised at all if the EAC’s move backfires and stirs up even more support for these young pro-independence candidates.
These candidates are well-known for their pro-independence stance so even if they have signed the declaration, it would hardly undermine their image and appeal because everybody knows they did it just to fool the EAC.
Besides, they don’t even have to repeat the term “independence” or any word to that effect during their campaign in order to get their message across, because, again, everybody knows what they stand for.
As such, asking them to sign that piece of paper is completely meaningless.
All that the declaration can accomplish is no more than preventing the term “independence” or “secession” from appearing in official occasions or TV debates.
Hong Kong people have always been mischievous when it comes to elections and politics: the more suppression, the more resistance.
And the more a candidate is suppressed or smeared because of his beliefs, the more likely he will gain more public support.
As a last resort, the EAC could declare the result of a winning pro-independence candidate null and void because he has violated his oath.
However, the government might need to pay a very dear political price for that decision.
Any attempt to disqualify an elected representative with a clear public mandate will definitely provoke an uproar in society with unpredictable consequences.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 26.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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