Monday, August 8, 2016

HKU Law Faculty Comment on the Invalidation of Pro-Independence Candidates

Austin Ramzy and Alan Wong
The New York Times
3 August 2016
Moves by the government of Hong Kong to bar candidates from a coming legislative election over the issue of independence from China have raised worries in this semiautonomous city about the deterioration of political freedom and the potential for renewed conflict with Beijing.
     Since Saturday, Hong Kong election officers have blocked at least five candidates from the balloting, on Sept. 4, for seats on the city’s Legislative Council over questions about whether they acknowledge the city as an “inalienable part” of China.
     The disqualified candidates are mostly young people who became politically active during the Umbrella Movement protests in 2014, when demonstrators shut down several thoroughfares for more than two months to push for greater choice in elections for chief executive, the top political office in the city.
     The protests failed to elicit any concessions from the government. But they helped fan a “localist” movement, as it is often called, of activists seeking to strengthen Hong Kong’s identity in the face of growing cultural, linguistic and economic influence from mainland China.
     Edward Leung, who said he learned he was barred as a candidate on Tuesday, is a leader of the group Hong Kong Indigenous, which has proposed holding a referendum on whether Hong Kong should become independent...
     His ability to run in February but not in September has raised questions about why the government changed its mind. Some legal scholars and politicians have criticized the decision to strike candidates from the ballot, calling it bureaucratic overreach and an infringement on political freedoms.
     If a candidate is suspected of having made a false declaration, then that should be investigated by law enforcement, said Eric Cheung, a law lecturer at the University of Hong Kong.
     “This is not rule of law, it is rule of man,” he said. “You should never give such power to a particular civil servant, then have the civil servant bypass the procedures.”... Click here to read the full article.

Hong Kong Economic Journal
3 August 2016
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... Click here to read the full article.

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