Edward Yiu Chung-yim, the pan-democratic camp’s candidate for the Kowloon West geographical constituency in the Legislative Council by-elections, has accused the government of trying to manipulate the March 11 contest, and said he is considering taking legal action.
The remarks came after Yiu was notified by an email from the returning officer in charge of the constituency that his candidacy was cleared at 4:14 pm Monday, less than an hour before the nomination period ended at 5 pm, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
There had been rumors that the former lawmaker from the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency would be barred from the by-elections, just like what happened in the case of another pro-democracy activist, Agnes Chow Ting.
Chow, a Demosistō party member who had sought to run for the Hong Kong Island seat, saw her application being rejected on Saturday on the grounds that her party advocates self-determination for Hong Kong.
Yiu was disqualified along with three other pro-democracy lawmakers by the High Court in July last year for improper oath-taking in 2016.
The 53-year-old activist, who had decided to switch his constituency, told media that confirmation of his nomination being valid is lawful and constitutional, as well as normal and reasonable.
A big rally by pro-democrats at the Central Government Offices on Sunday, plus a letter to the authorities, forced the government to respond to their appeal in a positive way at last, he said.
That said, Yiu claimed that being able to run does not make him feel happy at all as he does not think there is any legal basis whereby a returning officer is allowed to decide unilaterally who can run in the election and who can be barred.
He added that it is clear that the government had attempted to create a dilemma for pan-democratic camp, as the authorities nullified Chow’s candidacy while notifying Yiu at the last minute that he can join the race.
Yiu said he plans to file a complaint with the United Nations about the government’s alleged violation of Hong Kong law as well as the International Bill of Human Rights.
Asked if he will keep his distance from groups such as Demosistō that advocate self-determination for Hong Kong, Yiu reiterated that he will maintain friendly relations with all pro-democracy groups as usual, and that no clarification is needed as to whether he supports their ideologies or not.
As for the possibility that he could still be disqualified from running despite approval of his candidacy, Yiu said with confidence that he has no fear of that since he believes it is impossible for the government to do so by examining what he had said and done.
The Democratic Party has vowed to offer Yiu full support to run in the March contest.
Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a government and public administration senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, believes Yiu’s nomination was cleared mainly because some people in political circles may have urged the government to allow him to run, warning that a disqualification would only stoke public anger and make things difficult for the administration.
In related news, as nominations closed on Monday there were still eight people who had registered as candidates for the by-elections but had not received confirmations from the returning officers.
They included Au Nok-hin, a member of the Southern District Council who had claimed to be the replacement for Chow; James Chan Kwok-keung, a member of Sha Tin District Council who is considered a localist; and Ventus Lau Wing-hong, former spokesman of the localist group Community Network Union.
Chan had been contacted by a returning officer for inquiries but not Au and Lau.
Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong quoted Chief Electoral Officer Wong See-man as saying after a meeting last week that candidate eligibility will all be confirmed by Wednesday as a briefing session is scheduled to be held the following day.
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