A pro-independence candidate in the Legislative Council election has claimed that his campaign pamphlets were banned from public housing estates because they contained the word “independence.”

Chan Chak-to, an engineer who is running in Kowloon East geographical constituency, blamed the Housing Department for the ban.

Chan says an employee at a housing estate management office told him that originally the pamphlets had been allowed, but later the estates were told not to allow the campaign material to be put in residents’ mailboxes. The reason for the u-turn was due to the word “independence” mentioned in the pamphlets, the staff reportedly told Chan.

Chan Chak-to
Chan Chak-to. File

The pamphlets, which detail Chan’s election platform, include a page discussing various options for Hong Kong’s future. They are: independence, One Country, Two Systems, falling under UK or US sovereignty, or having the same system as China. Chan critiqued each option and offered his opinion that independence offers the best option.

According to Housing Department policies, the content of publicity materials displayed at public housing estates “should also not carry any messages that are unlawful, obscene, defamatory, insinuating, criticising or denouncing individual persons/parties.”

But Chan said he went through official channels to apply for the pamphlets to be delivered to housing estate mailboxes. He said he did not understand which regulations the pamphlets have broken.

“We express our anger at political censorship conducted by the Housing Department and government departments against Legislative Council election candidates,” he wrote on social media Thursday.

Chan Chak-to independence
A page in Chan Chak-to’s pamphlets including the word independence. Photo: Chan Chak-to.

The government has expressed its position that advocating independence is contrary to the Basic Law, the mini-constitution of Hong Kong. Whether advocating independence will violate other local laws is unclear.

Chan was one of the rare pro-independence candidates who were allowed to run in this election, while most other independence advocates were banned from participating.

Previously, Chan said he would send a “blank” election mailout to voters in his constituency, as he expected any pro-independence wording to be censored.

This came after delivery of election mailouts from three different groups containing words such as “self-determination” were delayed by the election regulatory body, pending legal advice from the Department of Justice.

HKFP has reached out to the Housing Department for comment.

The full list of geographical constituencies and District Council (second) functional constituency candidates can be viewed here.

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.