Democratic reform remains a highly contentious issue in Hong Kong. But, for all the controversy over the city’s lack of universal and equal suffrage, we can take some pride in the Legislative Council elections. The polls have become much more democratic over the years, despite the continued presence of small-circle functional constituencies. Most important of all, they are generally regarded as being clean and lawful, returning candidates from across the political spectrum. But the integrity of next month’s election could now be undermined by the government’s clumsy intervention in the nominating process, in an apparent bid to exclude pro-independence candidates. Prospective candidates were, for the first time, asked to sign an additional form when tendering their nomination.
The Legislative Council Ordinance already requires them to declare they will uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. That should be sufficient.
The new “confirmation form” introduced by the Electoral Affairs Commission is a curious document. It asks candidates to confirm their understanding that the promise to uphold the Basic Law includes three articles providing that Hong Kong is part of China. Candidates are put on notice that if they make a statement which is false, they commit a crime.