The government said on Tuesday that it is concerned that some candidates running in the Legislative Council election have advocated or promoted independence for Hong Kong.
Such activities mark a violation of the statutory declaration signed by the candidates before their nominations were validated, it said, referring to a pledge to uphold the Basic Law and accept that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China.
In a statement, the government warned that it “reserves the right to take follow-up action in accordance with the law” against Legco hopefuls who are found to have broken their pledge.
Authorities are striving to ensure that public elections in Hong Kong are held in strict accordance with the law — with the polls conducted openly, honestly and fairly — in line with the expectations of the community at large, it added.
The statement came after a candidate from Youngspiration and a person representing Kowloon East Community said in a joint rally Sunday that they will stick to their stance of supporting Hong Kong independence no matter what, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
Eric Cheung Tat-ming, principal lecturer at the Department of Law at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), said the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance is one of the weapons the government can use against independence-advocating candidates.
The government issued the statement immediately after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reiterated before a regular Executive Council meeting Tuesday that there is absolutely no room for discussion on Hong Kong independence.
Leung said he noticed before his policy address in January last year that some school publications had been advocating independence for the city, and that he has been warning against such ideology.
The chief executive singled out Undergrad, a magazine published by the HKU students union, in his address last year, saying that some articles in the magazine had promoted separatist thoughts.
With the independence topic become one of the highlights in this Legco election, Chinese-language newspaper Sing Pao published a commentary on its front page Tuesday, accusing Leung of sowing the seeds of independence as well as exaggerating the issue.
Describing the whole debate about independence as a Leung ploy to help him get re-elected next year, the commentary said Leung has been intentionally stirring up trouble centering on the issue and that Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong was behind it pulling the strings.
According to the latest survey from HKU’s Public Opinion Program, the support rating of Leung is at 39 points, down 1.8 points from early August and far lower than the warning level of 45 points.
His net popularity is a negative 44 percent, as only 19 percent of the respondents gave a positive assessment while 63 percent were unhappy with his performance.
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