Nathan Law: Officials adopting double standards on poll leaflets

August 10, 2016 14:52
Two Chinese characters (in blue) which suggest 'independence' were cleverly put in a poem printed on Youngspiration's election leaflets, along with a picture of Edward Leung. Photo: HKEJ, Facebook/Baggio Leung

Nathan Law, chairman of the four-month-old political party Demosistō, on Tuesday accused election officials of adopting double standards with regard to approval of campaign leaflets for the upcoming Legislative Council polls.

Law, who is running for a seat on Hong Kong Island in next month's election, said the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) appears to be discriminating against some candidates, sparking concern over the fairness and freedom of the electoral process.

The 23-year-old candidate questioned why the REO was procrastinating on a review of his leaflets while allowing another Legco hopeful's leaflets to bear words like "revolution" and "independence", the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

The actions of the election authorities amount to political interference in the Legco contest, said Law, who is Demosistō's only candidate in the September election.

Law's application for his original election leaflets, which contained words and phrases such as "self-determination", "choose government leader through referendum" and “control our future on our own", has failed to get the green light from the REO.

That forced Demosistō, a pro-democracy party established by former leaders of the Scholarism student group, to make changes in the leaflets by removing politically sensitive words and replacing them with symbols such as star, moon and sun.

The revised version was approved last Thursday.

Demosistō's secretary general Joshua Wong, 19, said last week that approval delay for election leaflets has affected Demosistō’ campaign plans.

It remains uncertain if authorities will clear the party's original campaign material.

Meanwhile, Baggio Leung Chung-hang, who is running for a Legco seat in the New Territories East constituency on behalf of the localist group Youngspiration, revealed Tuesday that his leaflets have won approval from the REO.

Leung wrote in a social media post that he cleverly hid the words "revolution" and "independence" in the message in his leaflet.

The leaflet, however, carries a photo of Edward Leung, a disqualified candidate from the localist group Hong Kong Indigenous.

The picture was carried in a bid to tell the public that Baggio shares the same ideology as Edward Leung.

With the REO clearing the leaflet, Law accused the REO of being selective in deciding which leaflets are good to go and which are not.

Asked for a comment by HKEJ, the REO did not explain what its criteria are in relation to decisions on campaign material.

But it reiterated that under the law the agency has to seek the Justice Department's opinions once it receives inquiries about election-related mail samples from Hongkong Post, which delivers campaign material to people's mailboxes.

In other news, Ho Lai-sheung, the returning officer for the New Territories East constituency who disqualified Edward Leung as a candidate last week, reported to the police Tuesday that she received a threatening letter along with an unknown white powder in the envelope earlier that day.

The latest threat followed a similar letter that she received last Friday along with a blade.

The sender of the latest letter claimed in the message that the powder was made up of anthrax, AIDS virus and semen. However, tests have revealed that the substance was just flour.

The crime unit of New Territories South Regional Headquarters is investigating the matter.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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