Former lawmaker Edward Yiu says he believes the government would not bar him from running in the Legislative Council by-election in March, given the strong mandate he obtained in Sunday’s pro-democracy camp primary election.
Yiu, who was disqualified from the legislature by a court in 2016 over the additional lines he added to his oath of office, has often been asked about the risk of being barred from running again.
“The government would not dare to cancel my candidacy because of the high turnout and the high percentage of support I received,” Yiu said. He won the primary with 75 per cent of the Kowloon West constituency votes.
“Do not create fear yourselves – this is what Beijing wants. 80 per cent of the voters told me to go slap the government in the face to oppose the disqualifications – but if all you can think is me being barred, then Beijing will be very happy,” he told reporters.
He said he will sign the controversial confirmation form for candidates, which demands that election hopefuls confirm they will uphold the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution: “The declaration is already made in the nomination form. It is not a problem to sign once again… I can sign ten of them.”
In the oath of office he took on October 12, 2016, Yiu added phrases such as “for democracy and for Hong Kong’s sustainable development.” His oath was rejected twice by the legislature’s clerk, but he retook the oath a week later and it was accepted. A court then ruled that he was never considered a lawmaker to begin with.
Former lawmaker Frederick Fung, who lost to him by a large margin, could be a backup candidate, according to the agreement signed before the primary. But organisers Power for Democracy have not given a clear answer as to whether Fung would automatically be “Plan B” if Yiu be barred.
Asked if Yiu would nominate a substitute himself, he said: “The voters gave me a mandate, but did not mandate me to choose other people.”
Yiu said he would support any plans supported by voters, pro-democracy lawmakers, and Power for Democracy. He did not elaborate when asked what the plan would be if he was barred from running after the nomination period ended.
Yiu said he aims to obtain around 1,000 nominations over the next few days before he officially submits his form.
The secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs said on Monday that he would not comment on individual cases at this stage, when asked if Yiu would be barred. He said returning officers will decide whether candidates’ nominations are valid in accordance with the Legislative Council Ordinance and the Electoral Affairs Commission’s guidelines.
The Demosisto party’s Agnes Chow, who will run in the Hong Kong Island constituency, said her party already has a “Plan B.”
Her party’s chair Nathan Law was also disqualified from the legislature by the court owing to his controversial oath of office. Chow said Power for Democracy has authorised the party to nominate a substitute, whom she said she believed will be supported by the pro-democracy camp.
Functional constituency seat
By-election hopeful and district councillor Paul Zimmerman does not hold a professional qualification in any of the four areas of the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency. But he said he has been working in the field for many years and said he was not concerned over potential disqualification.
The Legislative Council Ordinance stipulates that candidates must be a registered voter of the sector, or have a substantial connection with the functional constituency.
Former lawmaker Gary Fan of the Neo Democrats will run in the New Territories East constituency.
On the pro-Beijing side, Vincent Cheng and Bill Tang of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong have announced their candidacies for the Kowloon West and New Territories East constituency respectively on Monday night.
Former lawmaker Tony Tse is also tipped to run for the architectural sector seat against Zimmerman.