Two Legislative Council hopefuls are applying for judicial review to challenge the Electoral Affairs Commission’s new procedures, after it introduced a requirement that candidates sign a declaration promising to uphold three specific provisions in the Basic Law related to China’s authority over Hong Kong.

The Electoral Affairs Commission’s form for the upcoming election asked candidates to pledge to uphold three articles – numbers 1, 12 and 159(4) – which state that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China, that Hong Kong shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy and come directly under the central government, and that no amendment to the Basic Law shall contravene the established basic policies of China regarding Hong Kong.

Edward Leung Tin-kei. Photo: Soc Rec.

Hong Kong Indigenous member Edward Leung Tin-kei, who has applied to run in the New Territories East constituencyis seeking a judicial review to clarify the powers of the returning officer, RTHK reported.

Leung’s move came after he received an email from the returning officer on Friday, asking for his stance on the independence of Hong Kong, in order to determine whether his nomination would be accepted. He was originally allowed 24 hours to answer, but asked for the deadline to be extended until Wednesday morning to seek legal advice.

Outside the High Court. Photo: 吳文遠 Avery Ng via Facebook.

League of Social Democrats Chairperson Avery Ng, who intends to run in the Kowloon West constituency, will also be lodging a legal challenge together with Cheung Chau resident Kwok Cheuk-kin – also known as the “king of judicial review.”

Ng said that the declaration had no legal basis. Ng also questioned whether it was political censorship for the government to ask candidates who had not signed it about their stance on Hong Kong independence, Apple Daily reported.

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Ng said that although LSD did not agree with some of the localists’ ideas, methods or pro-independence stance, this did not mean that they would stay silent when witnessing an injustice. If the court could not process the application soon, he would discuss with his lawyer when he would apply to run.

Kwok said that the new arrangement deprived him of the right to choose a candidate who would not sign the declaration. He has asked Senior Counsel Hectar Pun to draft an affidavit for him and will be filing it with the court on Monday.

The nomination period ends this Friday.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.