Lee Cheuk-yan, a former lawmaker and former chairman of the Labour Party, has been allowed to run in the Legislative Council by-election scheduled for Nov. 25 for the Kowloon West geographical constituency.
On Thursday, three days after the 14-day nomination period ended, the returning officer in charge of the constituency told Lee, 61, that his nomination was valid, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The confirmation puts an end to speculation that Lee would be barred from the contest, meeting the same fate as ousted pro-democracy lawmaker Lau Siu-lai, after he was accused by the pro-establishment camp of not upholding the Basic Law and the “one country, two systems” principle.
Lee submitted his by-election application on Oct. 12, the second-last day of the nomination period, a few hours before Lau was notified that her candidacy was rejected.
Lau, who was the top choice of the pan-democratic camp for the race, had aimed to regain her seat in the constituency, but she was disqualified by the returning officer on the grounds that she had not given up on advocacy of self-determination for Hong Kong in relation’s to the city’s future.
Commenting on his candidacy, Lee, the camp’s “Plan B” candidate, said although he was given the green light, that does not mean Beijing will approve the stance he holds, which is for an end to one-party dictatorship. Central authorities can tighten their red-line grip any time they want, he said, while insisting that he will never change his position or views.
Slamming the government’s decision to disqualify Lau as being extremely unjust, the pro-democracy veteran pointed out that the returning officer did not confirm Lee’s own candidacy until the nomination period ended.
The approval delay shows how politics is going backward in Hong Kong, Lee said.
In other comments, Lee stressed that the pan-democratic camp has a chance to win the by-election as long as it can put up a united fight.
A senior person from the pro-establishment camp said Lee’s call for end to one-party rule, in Beijing’s eye, can be considered a political demand under the big principle of “one country”, and that it is different from the self-determination that has been advocated by Lau. That is the reason why Lee was allowed to join the race.
Among the other contenders, the returning officer has also cleared former Food and Health Bureau political assistant Chan Hoi-yan and former lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee to run in the by-election, but not the other two nominees — Ng Dick-hay from the information technology sector, and housewife Judy Tzeng Li-wen.
The Electoral Affairs Commission is scheduled to hold a briefing session for by-election candidates on Monday and determine by drawing lots the order of names of the candidates on ballots.
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