Pro-democracy candidate Edward Yiu has said that he is considering taking legal action and complaining to the United Nations about the government’s “evil acts” after they “manipulated” the legislative by-elections. It comes despite him being given the green light to run on Monday.

Demosisto’s Agnes Chow was disqualified on Saturday over her party’s advocacy of self-determination, which Beijing views as akin to independence. However, Yiu – who was previously rumoured to be barred from running – received approval to enter the race.

Yiu told reporters on Monday afternoon that the approval of his candidacy was “normal,” “reasonable,” and in accordance with the law and constitution. “There are no reasonable grounds to prevent me from running.”

Nathan Law and Edward Yiu
Nathan Law and Edward Yiu. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

Yiu added that the Hong Kong government had controlled the process and violated the Basic Law and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in obstructing those who wished to run.

“This gives a false sense to the public that the returning officer’s confirmation of whether a candidate is eligible is a ‘hurdle’. But it should not be a hurdle,” he said, referring to the civil servants who approve candidates.

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He also said he felt very angry that the government had “manipulated” the system, and that – even though his candidacy was approved – it was not something to be happy about. In screening candidates, Yiu said, “the true meaning of elections has been lost.”

“I am planning to consider taking legal action and also trying to complain to the UN about the government’s evil acts.”

Yiu was elected as a lawmaker through the architectural sector constituency in 2016, but was disqualified in July last year over his legislative swearing-in session. He added phrases such as “for democracy and for Hong Kong’s sustainable development” to his oath.

‘Political check’

Yiu said that both his candidacy, and Chow’s disqualification, involved manipulation: “First of all, the government does not enjoy any legal rights to check our political stance and – if you refer to the four questions raised by the returning officers to me the day before yesterday – all those questions are clearly a kind of political check.”

Yiu said he has raised a very strong complaint questioning the legal basis that gives a returning officer the right to check one’s political stance.

“And secondly, trying to deprive the civil right of Agnes Chow to run [in] the by-election is a violation of Article 26 of the Basic Law – so indeed, it’s illegal.”

The government sent a list of queries to Yiu regarding his allegiance to the Basic Law on Friday, claiming that his answers would be a factor in whether he will be allowed to run. Electoral Officer Franco Kwok asked whether Yiu sincerely upheld the Basic Law and whether he accepted Beijing’s interpretation of the provision on oath-taking which led to his ousting from the legislature last July. Yiu was then asked what he meant when he referred in an election debate to “more autonomy” for Hongkongers to decide their fate, and was also challenged over whether he agreed with an independence-leaning Taiwanese political party he had contact with.

Ramon Yuen
Ramon Yuen. Photo: In-Media.

Pro-democracy candidate Ramon Yuen said on Monday afternoon that he was withdrawing his nomination before 5pm, after learning that Yiu’s candidacy had been confirmed. “This is to ensure that the pro-democracy party can concentrate its votes [on one candidate].”

“The most important thing to note is that Yiu does not advocate – or even support – Hong Kong independence. So I do not see any reason to strip him of his eligibility,” Yuen said, adding that the pro-democracy camp will fully support Yiu in winning back his legislative seat.

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.