Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that by-elections for four vacant legislative seats should be held as soon as possible, though details should be worked out by the Electoral Affairs Commission. She said the process may take up to six months.

Ousted lawmakers Nathan Law and Edward Yiu did not appeal their disqualification by a court, whilst Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching did not succeed in taking their appeal to Hong Kong’s highest court. However, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai applied to appeal their disqualifications on Monday.

“By-elections should be arranged as soon as possible as legal proceedings have completed,” Lam told reporters on Tuesday.

Carrie Lam. Photo: RTHK Screenshot.

“From the view of the administration, I wish to fill the vacant seats as soon as possible, because the Legislative Council is a place for discussion, and it represents the public in monitoring the government. It is designed to have 70 members – I hope the vacancies can be filled, so that the Council can do its tasks in the most effective way,” she said ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting.

Lam said it was her understanding that Judge Barnabus Fung, the chair of the statutory body Electoral Affairs Commission, will have a meeting with two members of the Commission about the by-election arrangements this week.

Of the four seats, three are directly elected by voters in three geographical areas: New Territories East, Kowloon West and Hong Kong Island.

A polling station director talks with staff. File Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Lam said 2.1 million voters will have the right to vote, and 400 voting stations may be required. She said the Commission may need to hire and train around 14,000 personnel through the Registration and Electoral Office for the geographical by-elections.

The final vacant seat will be elected by 7,600 voters from the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape sector, who are not bound by any geographical area. Lam said there will be a technical issue in that the by-elections will not be held in New Territories West and Kowloon East. Thus, the Commission will have to look into how some eligible sector voters will be able to submit a ballot.

“It may take six months to plan,” she said. “But, in the end, how long it will take, when it will be held – is up to the Electoral Affairs Commission.”

The lawmakers were ejected from Hong Kong’s legislature over the controversial way in which they took their oaths of office. In a rare move, Beijing handed down a interpretation of the city’s de facto constitution, leading a court to rule that they were never lawmakers to begin with.

Editor’s note: Digital media outlets such as Hong Kong Free Press are currently barred from attending government press conferences.

Kris Cheng

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.