The Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) is believed to have been concerned about the language used in the campaign leaflets of Demosistō for next month’s Legislative Council polls, forcing the four-month-old party to revise the promotional documents.
The party, established by former leaders of the Scholarism student group, made changes in the election leaflets by removing politically sensitive words and replacing them with symbols such as star, moon and sun.
The revised version was approved late Thursday night, but the fate of the originally submitted material, which contained words and phrases such as “self-determination”, “choose government leader through referendum” and “control our future on our own”, remains uncertain.
According to the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the controversial material was submitted by Demosistō’s 23-year-old chairman, Nathan Law, who is running for a seat on Hong Kong Island.
The party’s secretary general Joshua Wong, 19, who spearheaded the Occupy movement in 2014 as the convenor of the now-defunct Scholarism group, told RTHK Thursday that procrastination by the EAC in approval of the election leaflets has affected Demosistō’ campaign plans.
The EAC has claimed that it must obtain opinions from the Department of Justice (DOJ) before a decision can be made.
Suspecting that approval was stalled due to political considerations, Wong demanded that Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, and the EAC give an explanation.
In a press release issued on Thursday, Tam did not give a straight answer but only said that the EAC, returning officers and all staff at the Registration and Electoral Office have been doing their job by following the Basic Law and the principle of political neutrality.
The EAC told reporters that under the law it has to seek DOJ’s opinions once it receives inquiries about election-related mail samples from Hongkong Post, which is in charge of delivery of election material.
As Demosistō is looking at filing for a judicial review on whether the review by EAC is justified, Wong said the party will not change its stance on referendum and self-determination for Hong Kong.
Some candidates from the pan-democratic camp have also accused Hongkong Post of applying political censorship on their campaign leaflets.
A group of Civic Party members staged a protest in front of the postal authority’s headquarters in Central on Thursday.
Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit, who is a barrister, said DOJ should not get directly involved in legal affairs related to the election.
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