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Thursday, January 14, 2021, 11:57
Experts: HK electoral reform necessary, political and legal
By Gang Wen
Thursday, January 14, 2021, 11:57 By Gang Wen

Hong Kong political and legal pundits on Wednesday warned that Hong Kong’s electoral system risks morphing into a platform for subversives to endanger national security and undermine the interests of the nation and the people of Hong Kong. 

They called for its systematic overhaul to plug the loopholes in the law to prevent subversive attempts by anti-­China elements, in addition to administering condign punishment on the radical“mutual destruction faction”that intends to take down the society. 

They called for its systematic overhaul to plug the loopholes in the law to prevent subversive attempts by anti-­China elements

The warnings came in response to a self­organized ballot by the opposition camp last July, before the  now­postponed Legislative Council election that was originally scheduled on Sept 6. 

The unofficial poll aimed to help the camp pick the most hopeful candidates to win over 35 seats in the city’s 70­ strong legislature. 

Fifty ­three people linked to the ballot were arrested last week by the police who said the poll was part  of  a “mutual  destructive”project that sought to paralyze the government through indiscriminately  vetoing the government’s annual budget. 

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City lawmaker and solicitor Holden Chow Ho­ding said if the Hong Kong government allows the  electoral loopholes to go unchecked and ignores the subversive attempts of the radical opposition, it will be tantamount to ignoring a major security threat to the country. 

The whole project aims at usurping the governance of Hong Kong, which is no longer a matter of merely a self­organized ballot, but a threat to national security, said Chow, who is the vice­chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. 

It’s the government’s responsibility to make sure that those anti-­China elements or those who collude with foreign forces are not allowed to run for election in the city, Lau said

To protect the interests of Hong Kong people and the country, Chow said local authorities should bring to justice those who endangered national security and attempted to destabilize the city. 

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He also suggested the government review and plug all loopholes in the existing laws to prevent any attempts to split the country and undermine the “one country, two systems”principle. 

Weighing in on the call for reform,  Lau  Siu ­kai, vice­president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong  and Macao Studies, said he thinks the reform should center on election hopefuls’qualifications, among  other things such as voters’ eligibility, election campaigns and election expenses. 

It’s the government’s responsibility to make sure that those anti-­China elements or those who collude with foreign forces are not allowed to run for election in the city, Lau said. 

When Hong Kong was under British colonial rule, the police’s Special Branch, a secret unit for gathering information on subversive activities, would do background checks on government officials, Lau said.

Similarly, he suggested the government set up a mechanism or department led by senior officials and employees of the central government’s office for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong, to review  the  background  of  those standing for the election. 

Barrister Lawrence Ma Yan kwok said the right to decide candidates' eligibility should remain in  returning officers' hands,  but the standards should be clearly written in relevant regulations and ordinances, which could provide a legal basis for returning officers to discharge their duties. 

Ma, who is also chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, said people who refuse to accept to the central government’s authority, or fail to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the SAR, should be barred from running for election. 

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