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Hong Kong bars 12 opposition candidates from legislative election

epa08574138 Members of the pro-democracy Civic Party, Jeremy Tam (2-L), Kwok Ka-ki (3-L), Alvin Yeung (4-L), Alan Leong (4R), Dennis Kwok (3-R), Cheng Tat-hung (2-R), and Tanya Chan (R) attend a press conference in Hong Kong, China, 30 July 2020. Kwok Ka-ki, Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, and Cheng Tat-hung are among 12 prominent pro-democracy figures that have received letters from electoral officers saying their Legislative Council nominations have been invalidated. EPA-EFE/JEROME FAVRE

Prominent activist Joshua Wong and 11 other opposition figures have been barred from running in Hong Kong 's upcoming legislative elections, a move they decried as the latest assault on China's critics in the semi-autonomous city.

The government of Hong Kong, in a statement on Thursday, said electoral authorities had disqualified the 12 nominees for failing to demonstrate their intent to support and promote the territory’s mini-constitution, or Basic Law.

Advocating for independence, soliciting intervention by foreign governments, or “expressing an objection in principle” to a national security law that China imposed on Hong Kong earlier this month are behaviours that “could not genuinely” uphold the Basic Law, the statement said.

It added that the Hong Kong government supported and agreed with the decision and warned more nominees could face a similar fate in the near term.

Wong confirmed his disqualification in a post on Twitter, saying he was barred for describing the new national security law as “draconian”.

The barring of opposition candidates amounted to China’s “biggest-ever crackdown” on an election in Hong Kong, he said, adding the move targeted both “young progressive groups to traditional moderate parties”.

He added that “clearly, Beijing shows a total disregard for the will” of people in Hong Kong, “tramples upon the city’s last pillar of vanishing autonomy” and attempts to keep the city’s legislature “under its firm grip”.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP), a Hong Kong-based news publication, said Gwyneth Kwai-lam Ho, another prominent activist, was also disqualified for opposing the national security law in statement on July 25.

Ho was told that “such an unequivocal expression” against the national security law “casts serious doubt on whether the candidate embraces, promotes, and supports the fundamental principle of ‘one country, two systems’, and therefore objectively has the genuine and true intention to uphold the Basic Law at the time of the nomination”, according to the SCMP .

Others disqualified included four incumbent opposition legislators, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung, it reported.

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