A Hong Kong election officer has asked Sha Tin District Councillor James Chan to explain his political views, in order to decide whether to bar him from running in the legislative by-election in March.
Chan was banned from running in the 2016 election because of his pro-independence stance at the time.
But, earlier this month, he claimed that – although he supported localist groups – he was never an independence advocate but an advocate of “Communism out of Hong Kong.” He said the concept aligned with the One Country, Two Systems principle enshrined in the Basic Law.
On Monday, New Territories East constituency election officer Chan Yuen-man sent a letter to James Chan to ask about his stance.
The counsellor was asked about his speech at a pro-independence rally in August 2016 – after he was barred – where he claimed that independence was the only way to defend Hong Kong. The election officer asked him what was the definition of Hong Kong independence in that speech.
Chan was also asked about the definition of Hong Kong independence in recent speeches denying he was an independence advocate.
“My job is not a professional election campaigner, I have work to do! I believe even people who graduated from politics cannot answer the two questions in 24 hours,” James Chan said. He was asked to reply before 3pm Tuesday.
The chief electoral officer has confirmed that election officers sought legal advice from the Secretary for Justice over their decision to bar candidates from running in Chan’s constituency.
In New Territories East, localist Ventus Lau, who also submitted nominations to run, had said he had stopped supporting independence. Lau said he had not received any enquiries from any election officer as of Monday morning.
Hong Kong Island candidate Agnes Chow was disqualified last Saturday over her party’s advocacy of self-determination, which Beijing views as akin to independence.
The enquiry to James Chan came after election officer asked Kowloon West candidate Edward Yiu about his political views. His candidacy was approved at around 4pm on Monday.
Others who submitted nomination forms to run in New Territories East include Gary Fan, Bill Tang, Christine Fong, Estella Chan, Nelson Wong and Joyce Chiu. Other potential Kowloon West candidates include Vincent Cheng and Jonathan Tsoi. And others who submitted nomination forms to run on Hong Kong Island include Judy Chan, Edward Yum, Au Nok-hin, Ng Dick-hay and Johnny Ma.