Date
12 December 2017
Chief Executive Carrie Lam (inset) says the Legco by-elections date will cause some inconvenience. Nevertheless, both Lam and Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung support the EAC's decision. Photo: ISD/i-Cable News
Chief Executive Carrie Lam (inset) says the Legco by-elections date will cause some inconvenience. Nevertheless, both Lam and Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung support the EAC's decision. Photo: ISD/i-Cable News

Top officials defend EAC’s decision on Legco by-elections date

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the decision of the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) on the date of the Legislative Council by-elections next year should be respected.

On Friday, the commission announced by-elections to fill the vacant seats left by four lawmakers, who were disqualified by the High Court in July for improper oath-taking last year, will be held on March 11. The nomination period will run from Jan. 16 to 29, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The vacancies include one for each of three geographical constituencies-Hong Kong Island, Kowloon West and New Territories East-and one for the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency.

The pro-establishment camp criticized the EAC, saying its decision disregarded the national conditions.

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), said the decision did not take into account the so-called two sessions in mainland China and showed some officials are not familiar with Chinese political traditions.

The two sessions refer to the annual plenary sessions of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top political advisory body.

The meetings are held every year in early March, which will clash with the by-election date. That means the election date will cause inconvenience to DAB members who have to cast votes to elect replacements for the disqualified lawmakers.

Lawmaker and CPPCC member Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung from the pro-Beijing Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, said he and others who will attend the meetings in Beijing have no choice but to fly back to Hong Kong in order to cast their votes.

Speaking to the media before leaving for a visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Lam said the government respects the EAC’s decision, although she admitted the date will cause some inconvenience.

She refused to comment on alleged discontent from Beijing, only saying that the law requires that by-elections be held as soon as possible.

On Saturday, Cheung said the government had worked hard to finalize the by-elections date and that the decision was taken after taking multiple factors into consideration.

Meanwhile, former Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said the EAC should explain the decision, adding that another date is not infeasible.

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TL/JC/RA

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