Amid fears that the Nov. 24 District Council elections may be suspended in view of the civil unrest, a group of former senior government officials, academics, business and religious leaders, and other prominent figures in society urged the administration to ensure that the polls will be held as scheduled and in a smooth and fair manner, otherwise there will be adverse consequences.
Among the 125 people from various sectors who signed the joint statement were former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, former transport and housing chief Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, former security chief Peter Lai Hing-ling, law professor Johannes Chan Man-mun from the University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce chief executive Shirley Yuen.
In the statement published in a newspaper on Tuesday, the group said Hong Kong citizens are entitled to have a fair, just and peaceful election, which can also be used as an effective way to peacefully and rationally solve social disputes, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
As such, the signatories urged the government to do its best to ensure that the election is held smoothly on Nov. 24 as scheduled and not to cancel it despite efforts by some people with ulterior motives to disrupt it and bring greater instability to society as a result.
They said it is worrying and heartbreaking to see the values cherished by Hong Kong society continue to suffer erosion due to serious social divisions, and stressed that it is the government’s responsibility to find a way out of the turbulent situation.
While urging no delays to the election, the statement also called on all qualified citizens to cast their votes despite the severe environment as a way of letting government leaders know their true sentiments.
The higher the voter turnout, the more meaningful the election will be, the statement said.
Talking to reporters before the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday morning, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government will spare no effort to ensure that the elections will proceed as scheduled.
In a social media post, Tsang denounced violence and said the government “must lead the way in de-escalating the use of force and resist postponing the District Council Elections”.
“Any attempt to delay the election would only prolong and escalate further violence resulting in unnecessary injuries,” he said.
The Scholars’ Alliance for Academic Freedom and HKEd4All, an education advocacy group, on Tuesday launched a signature campaign to demand that the government solve the political and humanitarian crisis immediately.
The groups also want the government to set up an independent commission of inquiry to look into the death of a Hong Kong University of Science and Technology student, who fell from a car park in Tseung Kwan O during a police operation on Nov. 4.
They want the police to stop entering campuses to pursue anti-government protesters, and are calling on students in the tertiary education community to launch class boycotts.
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