Posts Tagged ‘Legislative Council election’

Hong Kong: What Happens Now That The Legislative Council Election Is Over? — “Growing uneasiness towards Beijing”

September 9, 2016

 

Justina Crabtree; special to CNBC.com
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Nathan Law (C) speaks at a rally with Joshua Wong (centre L) and supporters following the former's Legislative Council election win in Hong Kong on September 5, 2016.

Nathan Law (C) speaks at a rally with Joshua Wong (centre L) and supporters following the former’s Legislative Council election win in Hong Kong on September 5, 2016. Isaac Lawrence | AFP | Getty Images

Hong Kong’s election results last week revealed big surprises, with several radical, young politicians now having a say over the city’s governance.

Alongside Hong Kong’s traditional “pan-Democrat” and pro-Beijing political camps, non-establishment figures advocating greater autonomy for the city now have seats on the former British colony’s Legislative Council.

An unusually high voter turnout of 58 percent and polls open well past midnight implied an appetite for change in the politically and socially conservative Special Autonomous Region of China. These were the first major elections since the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement took over central areas of the city in 2014.

As Hong Kong’s now more varied Legislative Council reflects the city’s increasingly diverse political scene, CNBC takes a look at some future scenarios:

‘Just another Chinese city’

Pro-Beijing politicians now hold 40 of the 70 seats on the Legislative Council.

Hong Kong is almost 20 years into a 50-year agreement between China and its former colonial ruler, the U.K., following its official handover in 1997. The city’s capitalist system and general way of life is to be maintained under a “one country, two systems” approach until 2047.

But, concern over what happens when this agreement expires is emerging early, following what some perceive as China’s growing encroachment on Hong Kong. Nathan Law, a leader of 2014’s Umbrella Movement and one of several newly elected “self-determination” advocates, has expressed that Hong Kong may become “just another Chinese city,” according to the BBC.

Roderic Wye, associate fellow of the Asia program at Chatham House, told CNBC via telephone that such an outcome perpetuates the “fear that (Hong Kong) would lose its specialness,” particularly with regards to its civil liberties and rule of law.

People aren't happy with Hong Kong politics: Expert

People aren’t happy with Hong Kong politics: Expert  Sunday, 4 Sep 2016 | 9:57 PM ET | 01:59
 http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/09/what-next-for-hong-kong-after-its-legislative-council-election.html

Shenzhen tie-up?

In July this year, Hong Kong-based newspaper the South China Morning Post published an op-ed arguing for the economic viability of a merger between Hong Kong and the Chinese city just across its border, Shenzhen, which is a Special Economic Zone. Apparently, the union would result in a “gross domestic product (purchasing power parity-adjusted) of about the same size as London’s.”

Though Wye says that “fusion with Shenzhen is not particularly likely,” Chinese Premier Li Kequiang announced in August at a State Council executive meeting that preparation for a link between the two cities’ stock exchanges had been “basically completed.”

Independence is a ‘red rag to the Beijing bull’

Several of those newly elected on to the Legislative Council openly support independence, two of whom – Sixtus “Baggio” Leung and Yau Wai-ching – are from the localist Youngspiration party.

However, there is some doubt the activists will have a meaningful impact. “Even the most enthusiastic [proponents of the idea] know in their minds that independence is not an option,” Wye told CNBC, instead describing the provocative topic as a “red rag to the Beijing bull.”

A push for independence may have arisen from unrest over a growing rich-poor divide, as well as increased immigration from the mainland. Wye also cites the “frustration felt in Hong Kong with the inability to make democratic progress” and “growing uneasiness towards Beijing” as additional factors.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua have quoted the government’s “resolute opposition” to Hong Kong’s independence. The city’s recent election was not widely covered in the mainland media.

Dr. Tim Summers, senior consulting fellow at the Chatham House Asia program and academic at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, wrote on the Chatham House website: “Expect to see more protests.”

“Hong Kong will continue to face fundamental challenges of growing local resistance to central government and antipathy to mainland China among much of the population,” he added.

Electoral officials count votes cast in the Legislative Council election at the central counting station in Hong Kong on September 5, 2016.

Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images
Electoral officials count votes cast in the Legislative Council election at the central counting station in Hong Kong on September 5, 2016.

Much the same?

Linda Li, associate provost at City University of Hong Kong, warned CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia against “overstating … the change by calling it a new era of politics.”

Only eight out of the 70 contested Legislative Council seats are now held by localists, radicals or student leaders.

Wye asserts that 2047 is in an “awful long time,” and that he “cannot rule out substantial change.” But, he says that the best outcome for the city would involve systems similar to those it currently operates under.

For Wye, Hong Kong should hope that “2047 is just another milestone along the road.”

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Hong Kong: Ken Chow says he was pressured to bow out of a city election to clear the field for a candidate favoured by the Chinese government

September 8, 2016

China pressures Hong Kong to squash independence calls ahead of poll

September 1, 2016

Reuters

Thu Sep 1, 2016 11:38am EDT

Starry Lee, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, greets supporters during a campaign in Hong Kong, China August 31, 2016, four days before the Legislative Council election. Picture taken August 31, 2016.REUTERS/Bobby Yip
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By James Pomfret and Venus Wu | HONG KONG

China pressured the Hong Kong government to disqualify six candidates who advocated independence from a crucial citywide election, as part of a campaign to bolster its interests and win seats for its allies, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Reuters was not able to independently verify their assertions, which come ahead of an election on Sunday to fill 70 legislative council seats in the city of 7 million people.

In the wake of the 2014 “Occupy Central” pro-democracy protests in which tens of thousands took to the streets, it is the territory’s most contentious vote since the 1997 handover.

Beijing’s refusal to grant full democracy to Hong Kong had prompted around 20 mostly younger activists to seek to run on platforms advocating various forms of independence or greater self-determination – anathema to the stability-obsessed Communist Party leadership.

China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong did not respond to a faxed request for comment, and neither did the State Council’s Information Office in Beijing. Hong Kong’s chief executive’s office also did not respond to emailed questions.

In July, Hong Kong’s Electoral Affairs Commission had ruled that all those standing in the election must sign a pledge that Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China.

Since then, the commission has rejected applications to run from half a dozen candidates, including some who signed, on the grounds that advocating independence was incompatible with that pledge.

“They laid down a direct order, that this pro-independence movement must be purged,” said a source in frequent touch with Chinese officials, referring to a verbal message he said was sent from Beijing to the Hong Kong government.

The source, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, did not give further details of how the message was conveyed.

A second source with ties to senior Hong Kong and Chinese officials said that, given China’s “zero tolerance” for independence, “the Hong Kong government has to be seen to be doing something, they couldn’t just do nothing”.

The second source, who also declined to be identified, did not refer to a “direct order”, but agreed that Beijing had sent a strong signal of what was expected to the Hong Kong authorities before the disqualifications began.

ULTIMATE CONTROL

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed back to China in 1997 under an agreement that gave ultimate control to Beijing but promised Hong Kong greater freedoms and separate laws for at least 50 years.

The second source with ties to officials said China had left details of how to exclude pro-independence candidates to the Hong Kong government to decide.

Beijing was displeased, however, that only six candidates had been barred, the source added, with others viewed with suspicion by China – including a group calling for a referendum on Hong Kong’s future after 2047 – allowed to stand.

The failure of the 2014 protests to win any concessions on greater democracy has increased calls from some activists for an outright break with China, a move some say would imperil Hong Kong’s economic and political future.

 

A poll in July by the Chinese University of Hong Kong suggested around one in six residents now support independence.

Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader, Leung Chun-ying, has issued frequent stern warnings against the nascent independence push as he eyes a second term of office next year.

Opposition democrats are defending 27 seats in the legislative council – crucially above the one-third threshold that allows them to wield a veto over some legislation.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Albert Ho said it would be “psychologically very bad” if the democrats were to lose their veto bloc.


Hong Kong Independence. Photo by Tyrone Siu, Reuters

“They can change the electoral system,” he said, referring to pro-Beijing and pro-establishment parties. “And it will be easier to force through legislation at the will of the government.”

Starry Lee, the head of Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), said her party aimed to assuage Hong Kong’s worsening social divisions.

She rejected suggestions that China were interfering in Hong Kong elections or that Beijing directed her party’s strategy, although she said issues were sometimes discussed with Chinese officials.

“Our election is handled by the DAB,” she said. “We will discuss, we will liaise sometimes, but we have our decision-making process.”

(Reporting by James Pomfret and Venus Wu; Editing by Alex Richardson)

*************************************

HONG KONG — Sixtus Leung sees no hope for Hong Kong if it sticks with its current political system, which has governed it since the former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

So he is working to overturn that system — by becoming part of it.

Someday, he would like to see Hong Kong become a city-state independent of China’s authoritarian government, which has been increasingly assertive here, despite its promise to allow the territory decades of autonomy. With megaphone in hand on a recent day, Mr. Leung — who goes by a nickname, Baggio — tried to persuade voters at a bus stop to back those ambitions by electing him to Hong Kong’s legislature.

Mr. Leung, 30, is part of a new, youthful force in Hong Kong politics that is on the cusp of acquiring a small measure of actual power. Polls indicate that his Youngspiration party has a real chance of acquiring one or two seats in elections on Sunday for the 70-seat Legislative Council, whose influence is limited but which can block initiatives by the city’s Beijing-friendly government.

Other political parties dominated by young people, and supporting some degree of greater self-determination for Hong Kong, will also be on the ballot in districts across this territory of 7.3 million.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/02/world/asia/hong-kong-elections-legco.html?ref=world&_r=0

Read the rest:

 

Related:

 (Has links to many related articles)

Bookseller Lam Wing-kee (C) takes part in a protest march with pro-democracy lawmakers and supporters in Hong Kong, China June 18, 2016.
REUTERS/BOBBY YIP
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 (Contains many  links to articles on the Chinese human rights lawyers)

Hong Kong: Declaration document saying Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China is unnecessary, illegal and wrong

August 2, 2016

Sherif Elgebeily says the Electoral Affairs Commission runs the risk of being seen as suppressing dissent with its decision to bar a localist candidate from running

COMMENTARY/Opinion

By Sherif Elgebeily
South China Morning Post
 

Last weekend, the Electoral Affairs Commission decided to invalidate the candidacy of Hong Kong National Party member Chan Ho-tin for the upcoming Legislative Council election. The exact reasons behind this are unclear, but other candidates who also refused to sign a newly imposed declaration form have yet to receive notice on the validity of their candidacies, fuelling concern.

The pledge to uphold the Basic Law is a fundamental part of the eligibility for candidacy, as outlined on the nomination form; it is for this reason that the ineligibility of Democratic Progressive Party of Hong Kong’s Yeung Ke-cheong – who refused to sign the nomination form itself – is legally valid.

Should Chan have been disqualified?

On one level, the additional declaration form is obsolete, as it simply duplicates existing obligations. Worse, it also appears to contravene both the rule of law in Hong Kong and the Basic Law in its effect.

First, there is no legal basis for the demand of an additional form, and the invalidation of candidacy on these grounds is beyond the powers of the commission. Any reference to such a form is absent in the law governing the election procedure; moreover, an exhaustive list of requirements for nomination is provided for under Section 40 of the Legislative Council Ordinance. Any legally enforceable declaration or criteria for the nomination of individuals would require amendments of the existing law, a path which has not been followed.

The commission has no absolute power to create new law

The commission has no absolute power to create new law. The form is also undermined by the commission’s own guidelines, which make mention of five explicit criteria for eligibility of nomination. They do not include the submission of a declaration form. These paradoxes raise alarm over the rule of law in Hong Kong, notably the separation of powers between government bodies and the supremacy of the law in an administrative context.

Second, in disqualifying candidates who are seen to advocate independence, on the grounds of failure to complete the declaration form, the commission has barred popularly supported candidates from representing their supporters. This infringes not only the rights of Hong Kong citizens to be elected, but also that of all citizens to elect their own representatives, and amounts to a violation of Article 26 of the Basic Law. To do so on the grounds of political belief also falls foul of articles 27 and 32 on free speech and the freedom of conscience. It is at best contradictory for the commission to disqualify candidates on the grounds of undermining the Basic Law while violating that document in doing so.

 Edward Leung speaks to the press last month. Leung received votes from some 66,000 Hong Kong people in the New Territories East by-election this year. Photo: AFP

Chan’s disqualification reflects a worrying trend of the regulation of Legco members. By eliminating voices of dissent at the ballot-paper stage, the authorities appear to be telling selected political groups that their opinions are either not welcome or not legitimate.

This rigid stance defies reality in today’s Hong Kong. Not all localist groups can be labelled anomalies. This year, for example, Hong Kong Indigenous’ Edward Leung Tin-kei won nearly 16 per cent of the vote in the New Territories East – over 66,000 voters in real terms. These citizens deserve to be heard.

Perhaps more importantly, voting patterns show that first-time and younger voters have been decidedly more involved in the election process, not only through casting ballots but also standing themselves. A new generation – those born after the handover – have reached voting age, and they care more about the status of Hong Kong and the full realisation of Basic Law freedoms than they do about the platforms that have traditionally formed political manifestos and campaigns. The government has a duty to engage with this demographic.

In essence, the decision to invalidate Legco candidacies over political stances is tantamount to the invalidation of the legitimacy of the voice of the youth today. From both a legal and political standpoint, the declaration form was unnecessary, illegal and threatens the future of the rule of law in Hong Kong.

Sherif Elgebeily (@selgebeily) is Bingham Centre International Rule of Law Visiting Fellow 2016, and a lecturer with the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law

The Bingham Centre is a part of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law

Hong Kong: Pro-China Election Rules Changes Again Bring Out The Protesters

August 2, 2016
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Anyone running for the legislature must sign a document pledging to support the notion that Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China — If you don’t sign, you cannot be part of the election….
By Reuters
Tuesday, 2 August 2016 14:53 GMT

* Candidates must sign form rejecting independence stance

* Opponents say that is assault on democracy

* Four candidates disqualified so far

By Tyrone Siu

HONG KONG, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Dozens of masked demonstrators tried to force their way into an electoral meeting in Hong Kong on Tuesday to protest against a new bar on anyone running for the legislature who refuses to declare the territory an “inalienable” part of China.

They were among hundreds of protesters gathered outside the meeting, a briefing for prospective parliamentarians, shouting for Hong Kong’s independence.

Inside the venue, some candidates who had been approved to run for election protested the decision to disqualify others.

Members of the League of Social Democrats and People Power tried several times to charge the stage and take the microphone before being pushed back by security, forcing the meeting to be suspended at least three times.

Politicians from other pro-democracy parties chanted: “No more political elimination!” and “Defend a fair election!”

The Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) said last month that potential candidates for the September Legislative Council election must sign an additional “confirmation form” declaring Hong Kong an inalienable part of China and acknowledging that advocating independence could disqualify them from the election.

Hong Kong has greater freedoms than mainland China and separate laws that were guaranteed for 50 years as part of a “one country, two systems” framework negotiated with the British when they handed back their former colony.

But there has been political unrest in recent years centring on Beijing’s refusal to allow fully democratic elections and its perceived meddling in the special administrative region.

Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong came out in support of the EAC’s new form while three Hong Kong politicians filed a request for an urgent judicial review.

So far the EAC has rejected four candidates. Activists have posted personal attacks on some of the EAC officers responsible for the decision, actions that the Hong Kong government has condemned.

Edward Leung Tin-kei, who was rejected as a candidate by the EAC on Tuesday, responded by saying the city was ruled by a “dictatorship”, local broadcaster RTHK reported.

Leung, a leader of the group Hong Kong Indigenous was one of the first street activists to move into mainstream politics when he won an unexpected 15 percent of the vote in a February legislative by-election.

He had signed the EAC’s confirmation form, saying his top priority was to get elected. (Writing by Clare Baldwin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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Anger as Hong Kong pro-independence leader barred from polls — “Hong Kong’s Democratic Process is Rigged By China”

August 2, 2016

AFP

© AFP | Edward Leung of the Hong Kong Indigenous party, speaks to reporters outside the High Court on July 27, 2016

HONG KONG (AFP) – A high-profile Hong Kong pro-independence leader said Tuesday he had been barred from standing in upcoming parliamentary elections — the latest candidate backing separation from mainland China to be disqualified.

The apparent ban for Edward Leung, of the Hong Kong Indigenous party, from the September vote came despite him signing a controversial new form (document) declaring Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China.

Critics have slammed the new stipulation by electoral authorities as political censorship and an attempt to deter prospective candidates from advocating self-determination or independence from Beijing.

Some activists are calling for more distance or even a complete breakaway from the mainland as fears grow that freedoms in the semi-autonomous city are disappearing due to Beijing interference.

Campaigners, including Leung, have challenged the declaration form in court and at least 13 prospective candidates have refused to sign it.

Leung, 25, eventually signed last week, despite his open advocacy for an independent Hong Kong, in the hope the authorities would validate his candidacy.

But his party said Tuesday he had been rejected.

It accused the electoral commission of “trampling the will of the people, abusing administrative power and giving up political neutrality”.

“There is no way the crime of selecting candidates according to political goals can be easily forgiven,” it said in a statement.

The founder of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, Andy Chan, was one of three other hopefuls barred in recent days from standing in the September vote.

Chan had refused to sign the declaration form.

The other two prospective candidates who disqualified were also part of the “localist” movement, which is pushing for more autonomy for Hong Kong after mass pro-democracy rallies in 2014 failed to win political reform.

Beijing and Hong Kong officials have repeatedly said that advocating independence goes against the city’s mini constitution, known as the Basic Law, and that independence activists could face legal consequences.

Various government departments including the electoral office made no comment Tuesday.

The government Monday condemned what it called “malicious personal attacks” online aimed at returning officers over their decisions during the registration period and said police may take action.

Hong Kong was returned from Britain to China in 1997 under an arrangement that guarantees civil liberties unseen on the mainland.

But concerns have grown that such freedoms are now fading as Beijing increases its influence across a range of areas, from politics to the media.

Related:

Mainland China’s continues to increase control over Hong Kong with “Rigged Election” — Second Pro-Independence candidate refuses to sign controversial declaration form that states Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China

July 31, 2016
Reuters
Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:49am EDT

Pro-independence Hong Kong National Party convenor Chan Ho-tin, speaks during a rally to protest against the disqualification of his application for Legislative Council election after he refused to sign a new controversial declaration form that states Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China
REUTERS/TYRONE SIU

A second local activist in Hong Kong has been disqualified from running in next month’s Legislative Council elections after declining to sign a new form saying the city is an “inalienable” part of China.

Yeung Ke-cheong, member of the Democratic Progressive Party, said in a Facebook post on Sunday that he had been barred, a day after Chan Ho-tin, a member of the Hong Kong National Party had also been disqualified.

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council plays a key role in scrutinizing bills, control public expenditure and handles complaints from the public. The election is being closely watched to see if pro-democracy candidates will be able to secure seats.

Chan received an email from the Electoral Affairs Commission on Saturday which said his application to join the election had been “invalidated”, fuelling speculation that others who hold pro-independence views also could be disqualified.

“The National Party is honored to become the first party to be banned from joining a democratic election by the government due to political difference,” the party wrote on its Facebook page.

The requirement that candidates pledge that the former British colony is part of China, and that advocating independence could make them ineligible to stand for election, is the latest in a series of issues that have raised concern about what many people in Hong Kong see as mainland China’s increasing control.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula meant to guarantee the financial hub’s considerable freedoms and separate laws.

But China’s refusal to allow unfettered democracy in next year’s election for the city’s leader triggered pro-democracy protests in 2014, and spurred worries about the city’s future.

A series of issues since then has compounded those fears.

The government issued a statement saying it agreed to and supported the decision to disqualify Chan.

The activists are one of a number of pro-independence candidates who refused to sign the recently introduced additional declaration form.

Previously, candidates only needed to pledge to uphold Hong Kong laws.

A Hong Kong court declined to rule on Wednesday on a challenge filed by activist politicians to the new rule.

About 100 people joined a rally on Saturday night to support Chan.

(Reporting by Anne Marie Roantree and Farah Master; Editing by Kim Coghill and Alison Williams)

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