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Wednesday, July 15, 2020, 00:38
HK ‘primary’ might have violated laws
By Gang Wen in Hong Kong and Zhang Yi in Beijing
Wednesday, July 15, 2020, 00:38 By Gang Wen in Hong Kong and Zhang Yi in Beijing

The top-level central government body overseeing Hong Kong affairs said the opposition camp’s “primary election” has caused grave challenges to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s constitutional order, and challenges the Basic Law and the National Security Law.

The HKSAR government has vowed to thoroughly investigate the event in the wake of a large number of complaints by local residents.

The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said in a statement on Tuesday that neither the Basic Law nor the current electoral laws of the HKSAR provide for a “primary election” system.

The move has undermined the city’s democratic electoral system and eroded the HKSAR government’s power to organize elections, the office said.

The office said the activity has a clear political purpose, that is, to overthrow the Hong Kong SAR government and seize governance.

In order to pick candidates for the Legislative Council election in September, the opposition camp held the event over the past weekend at polling stations across the city.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting, main organizer of the event, said that the poll was meant to help the opposition camp win 35 seats in the 70-seat legislature. That would enable them to take control of the legislature and veto the government’s budget proposal, he said.

In another statement issued on Monday, the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR said the primary poll has jeopardized electoral fairness and infringed on other candidates’ legitimate rights and interests.

The poll was held a week before the official nomination period for the Legislative Council begins. The organizers also were accused of engaging in controversial conduct, such as inflating the results and unlawfully using public property. 

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told reporters on Monday that the practice may constitute subversion of State power, an offense among the four categories of crimes proscribed by the new security law, if its ultimate goal was to derail government policies by taking full control of the legislature.

“I have to put forward a warning. If that’s the case, there is certainly a case to answer,” Lam said. 

According to Article 22 of the National Security Law, acts of subversion include seriously undermining performance of duties and functions in accordance with the law by the body of power of the HKSAR.

 Format not approved

In a statement on Monday night, Hong Kong’s Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said Hong Kong’s elections ordinance does not recognize nor approve of the format, procedure or results of the so-called primaries.

It said the government has received a large number of complaints about the activity. Aside from concerns that it might compromise the integrity of the upcoming election, people also complained about a possible breach of the ban on gatherings issued to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic, as well as breaches of privacy.

The government is conducting an in-depth investigation into the complaints and will seek legal advice if necessary, the bureau said. 

The Electoral Affairs Commission, Hong Kong’s election authority, said in a statement on Tuesday that an election is a solemn event and should be strictly regulated under election laws. 

Contact the writers at gangwen@chinadaily.com.cn

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