Candidates who advocate independence for Hong Kong on the campaign trail ahead of Sunday’s Legislative Council elections will face possible “follow-up actions”, the government warned on Tuesday. The heads-up came a day after a third Legco candidate, Kacee Wong Sum-yu, publicly declared her support for the idea of separating Hong Kong from China. The issue is at the centre of a fierce debate in the city, with the government warning that it violates the Basic Law while advocates counter that it is a mater of free speech. Voters go to the polls this weekend for the first full legislative elections since the 2014 Occupy protests in the name of democracy. “The government is concerned that … individual candidates have during the election period advocated or promoted the independence of the Hong Kong SAR,” an official spokesman said.
He noted this went against the statutory declaration candidates were required to sign pledging to uphold the city’s mini-constitution and accept China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong. The government “reserves the right to take follow-up actions in accordance with the law”, the statement said. No further details were given, leaving everyone guessing.
“It seems that once … validly nominated, the returning officer does not have the power to disqualify a candidate,” Benny Tai Yiu-ting, the constitutional law scholar at the University of Hong Kong who founded the 2014 Occupy movement, said.
Under the Legislative Council Ordinance, the returning officer must decide whether a person is validly nominated as a candidate “as soon as practicable” after receiving a nomination form.