Hong Kong’s top official on constitutional matters has said the by-elections for the Legislative Council seats left vacant by two ousted localist lawmakers may have to be conducted during, or after, the school summer break.

Normally, a by-election would be held four to six months after a seat is declared vacant. Youngspiration’s Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching have submitted an application for appeal against their disqualification to the Court of Final Appeal – a final legal showdown may ensue.

Yau Wai-ching
Yau Wai-ching outside the High Court. File Photo: Chantal Yuen.

Multiple factors

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen said on Sunday that he expected the judicial procedures would take some time.

Another factor, Tam said, was the upcoming chief executive election on March 26. He said as the nomination period will start on February 14, and the Registration and Electoral Office is busy making preparations with venue bookings and procedures.

A third factor according to Tam was the venues for the by-elections: “Because these are by-elections involving geographical electoral areas, we have to borrow a large number of venues, and you know May and June is examination season – I expect it would not be so easy,” he said.

The fourth factor, Tam said, was that – because this year is not a year for District Council elections – the provisional registers of electors would be issued in May and a final one would only be issued in mid-July. An election usually only occurs after the final registers are issued.

“[The timing] is, of course, a decision for the Registration and Electoral Office but, in my view, as the judicial process has yet to finish, there is a possibility that the by-elections for the two vacant seats will be conducted during or after school summer break,” he said.

Court of Final Appeal.
Court of Final Appeal. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

If their application for appeal is approved, Leung and Yau will have to submit a deposit of HK$1.6 million to the court before a set deadline.

But the donation site set up by them showed that, as of January 6, they have received HK$540,616.17 – only around ten per cent of their HK$5 million goal.

They previously said that, of the current donations, HK$510,000 has been used to pay their lawyers.

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.