Hong Kong’s decision to stop 12 pro-democracy candidates from running for office sets a bigger precedent and could lead to the end of significant political opposition in the city.
The group disqualified from contesting the upcoming city council elections includes prominent but also moderate student activist Joshua Wong and four operators, such as Alvin Yeung, who represents Hong Kong accountants.
More radical candidates were not prescribed to run earlier, and others were not allowed to take office after winning. But the latest decisions suggest the authorities must even eliminate moderate dissent from the halls of power. Many were elected in the primary elections that drew hundreds of thousands of voters.
“It is clear that the Chinese Communist party has decided to take this opportunity for the upcoming election to show the people of Hong Kong and the rest of the world that they have redesigned the whole game,” Kenneth said. Chan Ka-lok, a political scientist at the Hong Kong Baptist. University, and former pro-democracy parliamentarian.
“It is no longer one country, two systems,” he said, referring to the system agreed upon before the transfer of Hong Kong from British colonial rule, which was intended to guarantee the city substantial autonomy by 2047. “If the regime can’t even moderate … we’re moving very quickly towards a one-party system in Hong Kong.”
The disqualifications were made by low-level returning officers but were likely to be sanctioned at much higher levels, said Kai Chi Leung, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s journalism and communication school.
“In last year’s district council election we actually had a return officer who didn’t want to disqualify a candidate and had to apply for sick leave to allow another person to take his place (and sign the disqualification), “she said.
“It is likely that steps have been taken to select officers to return in this round so that such an embarrassing situation does not recur.”
Reasons given for the bans included opposition to the controversial national security law that Beijing brought to the city last month, and efforts to pressure foreign governments for sanctions on human rights abuses. -man.
Those campaigns took place before national security law was in place. But in a troubling indication of how authorities could apply it widely, a returning official said legal behavior that had previously looked at the candidates’ “true intentions” had led them to be sidelined.
“This is an outrageous political purge of Hong Kong Democrats,” Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, said in a statement. “It is obviously now illegal to believe in democracy … this is the kind of behavior you would expect in a police state.”
There is little room for appeal; Previous attempts to reverse the disqualification have only been successful on technical grounds, and authorities have followed the procedure carefully this year.
The disqualifications came in the same week that a prominent worried professor was fired for his pro-democracy campaign and for the arrest of four young activists facing life in prison under national security law.
There are also reports that the election could be delayed, leaving more room for the authorities to effectively dismantle the political system that has given Hong Kong a limited form of democracy and autonomy for 23 years.
“It can specify the end of opposition in the system, because electoral laws can be written entirely to make it impossible or irrelevant for the opposition to be re-run,” Leung said.