In a decision made by the returning officer, she stated she could not accept that Edward Leung Tin-kei truly changed from his past stance of advocating and promoting Hong Kong independence.

Leung, of Hong Kong Indigenous, was barred from the Legislative Council election on Tuesday, only hours away from the briefing for confirmed candidates.

In hopes of being able to run in the election, Leung distanced himself from past statements, media reports, and his old Facebook page, which advocated Hong Kong’s independence.

Edward Leung Tin-kei
Edward Leung Tin-kei. File Photo: Stand News.

Leung received an email on July 22 asking whether he still supported Hong Kong independence after submitting his application to run for a seat in the New Territories East constituency. In a reply on July 28, he said the answer was a “resounding no.”

“Mr Leung has not provided sufficient reasons or evidence to prove that the media reports on his advocacy for ‘Hong Kong independence’ were not true,” wrote Cora Ho Lai-sheung, returning officer of the New Territories East constituency.

She added that the law did not prevent her from considering materials that are, or may be, “hearsay statements.”

Edward Leung
A screen capture of Edward Leung’s new Facebook page in the returning officer’s reply. Photo: Edward Leung.

Ho also wrote that it was impossible for Leung to be ignorant of the existence and contents of his old Facebook page, “but he has never pointed out that the page’s ‘Hong Kong independence’ content was not coherent with his views.”

“Mr. Leung used the ‘[safe] version’ to describe the new Facebook page, showing that Mr. Leung used the contents of the page to try and obscure his real political views,” Ho added.

Ho wrote that Leung did not express that he no longer supported Hong Kong independence between July 22 and 28, and that he only stated his opposition in his reply on July 28.

Ho also cited Leung’s statements during a press conference on July 28.

Leung said then: “The regime does not want me to enter the Legislative Council – even if I have to crawl inside, through whatever means, I need to join it. I must stand for election in September and win… and be a lawmaker.”

Edward Leung
A screen capture of Edward Leung’s personal Facebook account in the returning officer’s reply. Photo: Edward Leung.

“I think [the statements made by] Mr. Leung mean that he will use whatever means to enter the Legislative Council, including claiming not to advocate Hong Kong independence anymore; if he becomes a legislator, he will continue to advocate and support Hong Kong independence,” Ho wrote.

Thus, Ho said she could not accept that Leung has truly changed his stance. Because he did not intend to uphold the Basic Law, his candidacy was rejected, she said.

A statement from Hong Kong Indigenous said the reply from Ho was “naked political and thought censorship.”

“The function of the Electoral Affairs Commission is to coordinate election affairs –  it has no power and legal basis to censor the political views of candidates,” it read.

It also pointed out that Leung was allowed to participate in the LegCo by-election in February – in which he received more than 60,000 votes – but was unable to join the one in September.

“It is utterly ridiculous,” it added. The group said it will lodge an election petition and judicial review to overrule the decision.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.