A by-election will be held on March 11 next year to fill four vacant seats in the Legislative Council, the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) announced on Thursday.
These include one seat each for three geographical constituencies — Hong Kong Island, Kowloon West and New Territories East — and one seat for the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The seats left vacant were those held by Nathan Law Kwun-chung (Hong Kong Island), Yau Wai-ching (Kowloon West), Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang (New Territories East), and Dr. Edward Yiu Chung-yim (architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency).
All four, along with “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung (New Territories East) and Lau Siu-lai (Kowloon West), were disqualified by the High Court after the government launched legal action for improper oath-taking.
Since Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai have appealed their cases to the Court of Appeal, their seats will not be contested in the by-election.
An EAC spokesman said the commission decided to hold the by-election in about six months to ensure sufficient resources are allocated to the exercise. Also, the timetable takes in public holidays during the period.
The number of staff available to the Registration and Electoral Office is inadequate for a by-election of such scale. Recruitment and training of additional staff are needed as soon as possible, the spokesman said, adding the process will take time.
The nomination period must not be less than 14 days or more than 21 days. It must end not less than 28 days and not more than 42 days before polling day.
Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang accused the government of delaying the vote, saying all seven by-elections previously were completed in five months.
Starry Lee Wai-king, chairperson of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the government should hold a by-election for all six seats in one go to save cost if the appellate court rules on Leung Kwok-hung’s and Lau Siu-lai’s appeals before Mar. 11
Both Edward Yiu and Lau Siu-lai have said they will proactively consider running in the by-election in their constituencies, while Leung Kwok-hung said he has not decided yet.
Demosistō, the political party chaired by Law, who is now in jail for his role in a 2014 democracy protests, said it will consider fielding a candidate to run for the seat he vacated.
Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, who sought a judicial review but had their application denied by the Court of Final Appeal, have both implied they are not running.
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