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Wednesday, July 08, 2020, 09:04
Security law to create ‘fair environment’ for LegCo election
By Kathy Zhang
Wednesday, July 08, 2020, 09:04 By Kathy Zhang

Hong Kong Executive Council member Ip Kwok-him said the new National Security Law for the city will ensure that the upcoming Legislative Council election, which is scheduled for Sept 6, will be fair and free of violence.

“I believe residents will be protected from fear and threats of violence. They can cast their ballots according to their own will,” Ip told China Daily during a one-on-one interview on Monday.

Ip, who is also a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislature, referred to the climate of public anxiety after nearly five months of rioting in the streets that prevailed during the District Council elections in November. Public and private property was looted, vandalized and sometimes set afire. Leading figures who supported the administration became targets of attack.

The city’s largest political party in LegCo, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said that over 70 DAB branch offices were vandalized and surrounded by radical protesters in more than 100 incidents before the elections. The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions — the city’s largest labor union — said 30 of its training centers and branch offices across the city were vandalized amid the social unrest.

Ip described that climate, coming before the District Council elections and right up to the election day, “horrifying” and “upsetting”, as many people were afraid to speak openly about their political views.

“Under such circumstances, how can an election be held in a fair manner?” Ip said. “I believe the National Security Law will help the city get back on track, at least creating a normal environment for the upcoming election and election campaigns.”

The former legislator said the new law’s intent is not to disqualify people from taking part in elections, as claimed by critics.

“Hong Kong’s existing laws clearly state that qualified election candidates are required to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” Ip said.

Returning officers, who oversee elections, are the final authority, and candidates who fail to present to their respective returning officer enough qualifications to serve in public office are not allowed to throw their hats in the ring, he added.

Ip said the National Security Law targets only a fringe group that is intent on disrupting national security to the point of endangerment. Those activities now fall under the stricture of the new law, which specifies four categories of crimes against the State.

People still have the right to object, to protest, and to criticize the government, and the principles of free speech have not changed, he said.

kathyzhang@chinadailyhk.com

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