Former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang has said that he hopes the Electoral Affairs Commission will explain the reason for setting March 11 as the date of the upcoming by-elections, as it clashes with top meetings in Beijing.

The government last week officially gazetted the date of by-elections for four Legislative Council seats. They are being held in response to the disqualification of four lawmakers over their controversial swearing-in ceremonies. As ousted lawmakers Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai have filed an appeal, their seats will not be up for election at this stage.

Jasper Tsang
Jasper Tsang. File photo: LegCo.

The pro-Beijing camp previously urged the government to adjust the date, as it clashes with the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing. The meetings will be attended by hundreds of their colleagues.

‘Suitable consideration’ 

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Tsang said, “Of course the Electoral Affairs Commission has a lot of factors to consider. Since lawmakers as well as members of the public have asked whether it was possible to avoid the date of March 11, the Electoral Affairs Commission should give it suitable consideration.”

“If there are other convenient dates, I believe it is fitting to make appropriate adjustments. But it seems that the Election Affairs Commission have already made the decision, and I think all parties will do their best to make arrangements to accommodate their work with the by-elections,” he added.

polling station vote democracy
Photo: In-Media.

Tsang also said that he believed there will not be too much of an impact, and if attending the meeting will greatly influence the by-elections, lawmakers can assess whether they can take leave from the meetings or find time to come back to Hong Kong.

The scheduled by-elections will involve three direct elections in the Hong Kong Island, Kowloon West, and New Territories East constituencies through a first-past-the-post system, plus one in the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency, in which only members of one professional sector can vote.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.