Lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick has found himself barred from running in a rural representative election in Yuen Long, with the returning officer saying that Chu’s answers, in response to some questions, “when viewed objectively, can be understood as implicitly confirming that he supports that independence could be an option for Hong Kong people”.
Following the disqualification, some members of the pro-establishment camp are aggressively trying to extend their gains by seeking to strip Chu of his Legislative Council membership on grounds of him having violated his oath of office.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday said the government has no plans to unseat Chu, but added that authorities will study whether the current legislation on elections should be amended.
A government source noted that as Chu has already been serving as a lawmaker for two years now, any act of raising doubts about his qualification as a Legco member at this point would appear a bit too “heavy-handed” in the public eye.
According to some in the legal sector, under Hong Kong’s existing law, any judicial review application targeting the qualification of a sitting lawmaker must be within three months of the date when grounds for the application first arose, which means the government can no longer take any legal action to disqualify Chu because the claim is already time-barred by now.
Besides, since Lam has reiterated time and again, ever since she took office, that she is prioritizing livelihood issues, going after Chu right now might give the public a negative impression that she is saying one thing but doing the opposite.
Amid this situation, the only possible way to oust Chu is for pro-establishment lawmakers to move a motion of impeachment against him in Legco, which requires more than two-thirds majority to pass.
Some pro-Beijing lawmakers, including Aron Kwok Wai-keung of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, have eagerly proposed to oust Chu, but others from the same camp have admitted that they haven’t had any communications with one another on the issue, let alone reaching a consensus and officially triggering the impeachment mechanism.
The pro-establishment camp simply can’t secure enough votes at this point to achieve that, some in the camp said.
Given this, Chu is expected to be safe in his position as a lawmaker for the remaining two years of his term.
That said, some pro-establishment lawmakers warn that if Chu continues to stand by his conviction in the coming days that no restriction should ever be imposed on people’s freedom of either advocating or supporting Hong Kong independence, his chances of being able to run for election again in the 2020 Legco race would be anything but promising.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 4
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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