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HK disqualifies two Election Committee candidates

By CHEN SHUMAN and CHLOE XU in Hong Kong | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-08-27 07:09
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A woman walks past China's national flags and the flags of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for the celebration of 24th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland at Tsim Sha Tsui East in Hong Kong on June 29, 2021. [Photo by Edmond Tang/]

Hong Kong lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai was disqualified on Thursday from sitting on the newly expanded Election Committee and also lost his Legislative Council seat after a review panel declared that he didn't uphold the Basic Law and bore no allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Cheng was one of two candidates disqualified from among 1,498 nominees, said John Lee Ka-chiu, the head of Hong Kong's seven-member Candidate Eligibility Review Committee, which was established after the city's electoral reform.

Lee said that Cheng also must forfeit his seat in the legislature, and will be banned from running for it for the next five years in accordance with a November decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Hong Kong lawmakers' eligibility for the legislative body.

Lee said the review committee asked Cheng to provide additional documents and explanations, and sought opinions from the city's National Security Committee. The security committee concluded that Cheng did not meet the statutory requirements of honestly supporting the Basic Law and being loyal to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The other disqualified candidate was not registered as a voter in their geographical constituency, Lee said. The government had informed the two candidates of their disqualifications, he said.

The nominations of the other 1,496 candidates were valid, including 1,015 running for subsector elections scheduled for Sept 19, 325 ex officio members, and 156 returned by nomination from designated organizations.

Lee said the review process aims to ensure that those who only pretend to support the Basic Law and feign loyalty to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region cannot pass review, with the same standard applied to all candidates.

He said the review committee made the decisions based not only on the information provided by candidates, but also their past words and deeds, published books or articles and other evidence.

He added that according to the vetting result, qualified candidates are from different parties, and some do not belong to the so-called pro-establishment camp. The vetting process doesn't aim to suppress opposition voices or criticism, but to prevent actions harming the interests of the city and the nation, Lee said.

"The government will go all-out to ensure that the elections are fair and equitable, and that the principle of 'patriots administering Hong Kong' is upheld," he said.

Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said he believed the legislature could still play its role and continue to reflect diverse voices in society after Cheng forfeited his seat.

During an online briefing for Election Committee candidates on Thursday night, they were given information on electoral arrangements, guidelines on election-related activities and important points to note in running election campaigns.

Besides scrutinizing candidates for the Election Committee, the review committee is also tasked with vetting the eligibility of lawmakers and the city's chief executive. It will also be involved in scrutinizing nominees for the Legislative Council election scheduled for Dec 19 and the chief executive election on March 27.

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