At a news conference, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the move to postpone the Legislative Council elections, scheduled for September 6, was the most difficult decision she had taken. in the last seven months. She added that she had the support of the Chinese central government to make this decision.
Lam said the delay was necessary to protect public health and guarantee justice in the election.
“The new wave of epidemics could take several weeks or even longer. Even if the previous experience in April or May, even if the epidemic stabilizes, society will take some time to recover. experts say how often it is immediate to develop and supply effective vaccines, otherwise an outbreak for the winter is likely to occur by the end of the year, “Lam said.
She invoked an order of emergency regulations in the colonial era to postpone local elections.
According to the Basic Law – Hong Kong mini-constitution – The terms of the Legislative Council are limited to four years. Lam said that she therefore approached the Central People’s Government for guidance on how to deal with this one-year vacuum. She said Beijing will make a submission to the standing committee of the National People’s Congress for a decision.
Lam said that while it is not in her hands, she believes that a logical solution would be to allow the current Legislative Council to continue for next year.
Some pro-democracy activists including Joshua Wong have argued that the government is using the pandemic as an excuse to postpone a crucial election for Hong Kong.
They accused the government of wanting to avert potential losses following China’s imposition of a new national security law on the city, banning secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with the forces. foreigners.
The democratic camp had set its goal of winning a majority in the 70-member Legislative Council poll this September.
Opposition parties aimed to lift a wave of discontent with the government for a historic victory in the semi-democratic legislature, where just under half of the seats are controlled by so-called functional constituencies, which represent groups of business and society and are typically pro-government.
Last year, pro-democracy candidates won a valid victory in the Local Council elections. A similar outcome in the legislative council could put them in a position to force a constitutional crisis by blocking the budget and pressuring Lam to resign. Both the Chinese and Hong Kong governments have suggested that such a plan could be illegal under the new national security law.
In a statement, the Hong Kong government said it supported the decisions by returning officials to “invalidate 12 people nominated for this year’s Legislative Council (LegCo) General Election.”
He said the candidates were prescribed on the grounds that they did not respect the Basic Law, the de facto constitution of Hong Kong, and suggested that more could be disqualified in the future.
The government said it “respects and safeguards the legal rights of Hong Kong people, including the right to vote and the right to stand for election.”
Several letters sent online by disqualified candidates by returning officials informing them of their decision cited a previous opposition to security law as a reason for the move.
“The excuse they use is that I describe (the security law) as a dragon law, which shows that I don’t support this sweeping law,” Wong said.
Another disqualified candidate, Dennis Kwok, was recruited because he expressed his intention to use his position as a legislator “in a way that would force the government to adhere to certain demands,” effectively the work of opposition legislature mostly democratic countries.
This breaking story has been updated with additional reporting.
Journalist Phoebe Lai in Hong Kong contributed to the reporting.