Outgoing Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said he believed candidates were asked to sign a new declaration form because the Central government was worried about discourse on Hong Kong independence. He also said that there was no need for an interpretation of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

Apart from confirming that they will uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the original nomination form, candidates are now required to sign a new confirmation form stating support for three specific articles of the Basic Law on China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong.

Tsang made an appearance on a DBC radio programme on Wednesday. He said that since the handover, Hong Kong independence has never been a part of anyone’s manifesto, but now there are some who are running under the banner of independence.

Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. File Photo: Stand News.

“The government – both the Central government and the HKSAR government – really need to think about this deeply,” Tsang said. “Why is it that 19 years after the handover, this would still become an issue in society?”

Tsang said he noticed that an earlier Chinese University of Hong Kong study showed that 80 per cent of those surveyed believed independence would not work and that it was not a practical way out. Out of those who said they support independence, there are also differing views, meaning there are not many who are running as pro-independent candidates, he added.

File photo: Todd Darling.

“Secondly, I think we need to believe in the intelligence of Hongkongers and their pragmatic attitudes,” Tsang said.

Tsang said that even if only one or two pro-independence individuals enter the legislature, it could strike a blow to Hong Kong’s development.

NPCSC interpretation unneeded 

In response to the new confirmation form candidates were asked to sign, Tsang said that candidates are already asked to uphold the Basic Law when signing up to run, and that the confirmation form only selected some articles; it did not ask the candidates to make any additional promises.

See also: Civic Passion candidate says he will not advocate independence through run; HKNP convenor refuses to answer

He also said that there was no need for an interpretation of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) because the confirmation form did not involve any dispute on articles in the Basic Law itself, and it does not fall under the NPCSC’s scope, Ming Pao reported.

Tsang added that the Electoral Affairs Commission can adopt any measure to ensure the election runs smoothly, but if the authorities wished to take away someone’s lawful rights such as the right to run for election, there must be a legal basis.

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.