Andy Chan Ho-tin, the convenor of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, has filed a court challenge over the rejection of his candidacy in the latest Legislative Council election.
The petition may take years to be determined, but it could trigger a re-election if eventually successful.
Appearing at the High Court on Friday morning, Chan officially filed an election petition in an attempt to overrule the election. He was barred from running because the returning officer deemed his support of Hong Kong independence to have violated the Basic Law, the mini-constitution of Hong Kong. Chan was one of five candidates disqualified because of their political views.
“I strongly condemn the Hong Kong communist government, which tore apart the false appearance of rule of law in order to ban pro-independence candidates from running, so that no one can advocate Hong Kong independence in the election and enter the Legislative Council,” he said.
“If the government does not allow any voices for Hong Kong independence, it is a dictatorship; it will only decide the future of Hong Kong by its own will,” he said, adding that this was reflected in the court application.
“My election rights and the rights of New Territories West voters to vote [for me] are protected by the Basic Law, and they are natural rights,” he said.
He said the application argued that returning officers were breaking the law if they banned a candidate on the basis of statements he made on social media, or in his election platform. The law did not authorize them to examine these statements, Chan said.
He also challenged the newly-added confirmation form in the nomination process – which requires candidates to declare that they uphold Basic Law articles on China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong – as not having any legal basis.
“Ultimately, we demand that the court determine whether this election is legitimate; if not, it should be invalidated,” he said.
“If Hong Kong is a society of rule of law, this election petition must be successful,” he added.
Chan said he did not know how long the challenge would take, as it may be up to three years, but his party will continue to expand its power in secondary schools and universities to promote Hong Kong independence.
Edward Leung Tin-kei of Hong Kong Indigenous, who was also barred from the election, will also file an election petition. Leung was out of Hong Kong on Friday for a conference on human rights in Tibet held in Brussels, Belgium.