2020 Hong Kong Legislative Council candidates’ disqualification controversy

In the subsequently postponed 2020 Hong Kong Legislative Council election, 12 opposition candidates were disqualified by the returning officers from running in the election, including four incumbent legislators, Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki, Dennis Kwok and Kenneth Leung, as well as activists Joshua Wong, Ventus Lau, Gwyneth Ho and Cheng Kam-mun and incumbent District CouncillorsLester Shum, Tiffany Yuen, Fergus Leung and Cheng Tat-hung.[1]

. . . 2020 Hong Kong Legislative Council candidates’ disqualification controversy . . .

The political screening of Legislative Council candidates began in the 2016 Legislative Council election when six localists were barred from running in the election for their alleged advocacy for Hong Kong independence, including Edward Leung of Hong Kong Indigenous, who had previously contested the 2016 New Territories East by-election, and Chan Ho-tin of the Hong Kong National Party.[2] Returning officer Cora Ho Lai-sheung rejected Leung’s nomination referring to Leung’s Facebook posts, newspaper clippings and cited transcripts of remarks made at press conferences, and stated that although Leung had signed the forms, she did not believe that he had “genuinely changed his previous stance for independence”.[3]

Screening of candidates for political reasons continued in the March 2018 Legislative Council by-elections, where Agnes Chow (Demosistō) and Ventus Lau (Shatin Community Network) were barred from running in late January 2018. Returning officer Teng Yu-yan ruled on Chow’s candidature stating that “the candidate cannot possibly comply with the requirements of the relevant electoral laws, since advocating or promoting ‘self-determination’ is contrary to the content of the declaration that the law requires a candidate to make to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region]”.[4]

On 13 February 2018, High Court judge Thomas Au upheld the returning officer’s decision to disqualify Chan Ho-tin from joining the 2016 Legislative Council election (viz: Chan Ho Tin v Lo Ying Ki Alan & Ors).[5] Justice Au ruled that: “The returning officer was entitled to look at matters beyond the compliance of the nomination form to come to a view as to whether Mr Chan at the time of the nomination intended to uphold the Basic Lasic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR”.[6]

Pro-democracy candidate Lau Siu-lai, who had previously been disqualified from the Legislative Council over her oath-taking, was barred from running in the November 2018 Kowloon West by-election. The returning officer invalidated her candidacy on the basis of Lau previous advocacy of Hong Kong’s self-determination, which showed “she had no intention of upholding the Basic Law and pledging allegiance to Hong Kong as a special administrative region of China.”[7]

. . . 2020 Hong Kong Legislative Council candidates’ disqualification controversy . . .

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. . . 2020 Hong Kong Legislative Council candidates’ disqualification controversy . . .