Law experts question EAC move to bar pro-independence bet

August 03, 2016 15:32
Edward Leung, a member of the localist group Hong Kong Indigenous, said he will submit an election petition on Sept. 5, a day after the Legco election. Photos: HKEJ, Reuters

Several law experts said Edward Leung Tin-kei (梁天琦), a prominent member of the localist group Hong Kong Indigenous, should not be deprived of his right to run in the Legislative Council election next month since he has met the new requirement set by the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) for candidates, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Johannes Chan Man-mun, former law dean and now a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, told HKEJ that an electoral officer has no right to make her own judgment and question Leung’s stance after he signed a new confirmation form committing him to uphold the Basic Law and accept Beijing's sovereignty over Hong Kong.

In the first place, Chan said, the new requirement has no legal basis and Leung was not given a chance to defend himself before his disqualification.

Chan said the electoral officer, in barring Leung from the Legco race, might have violated the Basic law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

Eric Cheung Tat-ming, principal lecturer at the HKU Department of Law, agreed with Chan, saying electoral officers should base their decision only on whether or not a candidate has fulfilled all the requirements for running in the election.

A source in the government said returning officers base their decision not only on whether candidates have signed the new confirmation form but also on their words and actions in the past.

Leung, who has been advocating for Hong Kong's independence, revealed last Thursday that he had signed and submitted the new EAC confirmation form for candidates.

He said he decided after much deliberation to sign the form because he didn’t want to be deprived of his chance to become a lawmaker, which is his primary goal, as a result of not following the new rules.

However, the returning officer in charge of the New Territories East constituency, where Leung aimed to run for a seat, told Leung on Tuesday that his bid was rejected because she believes he will still call for Hong Kong's independence during the campaign, even though he has promised not to do so in response to an email query from the EAC officer.

Leung told media Tuesday that the government is leaving him with no choice but to start a revolution.

He also said he will submit an election petition on Sept. 5, a day after the Legco election.

Civic Party legislator Alan Leong Kah-kit, who is a barrister, said it is likely that the court would rule in favor of Leung in his petition and that could result in his election.

Leong said Beijing, which he believes is behind the new election requirement, is only helping the cause of localism.

He also said by disqualifying Leung while allowing candidates from other localist or pro-independence groups to run, the government is being selective in deciding who can participate in the election.

Besides Leung, five other people have also been disqualified to run for Legco after they either refused to reply to queries from electoral officers in their constituencies or reiterated their stance of supporting independence or return to British rule.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal