Pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow has filed an election petition challenging an election officer’s decision to bar her from running in Hong Kong’s March by-election.

Chow was barred in January over her association with the Demosisto party, which supports self-determination for Hong Kong people. Election officer Anne Teng did not ask her any questions to officially consider her political stance before she was barred from entering the legislative election race.

Agnes Chow
Agnes Chow. Photo:

An election petition filed by pro-independence activist Andy Chan has failed after he was banned from the 2016 legislative election. However, Court of First Instance judge Thomas Au ruled that a returning officer may examine matters beyond the formal compliance of the candidate’s nomination form, and said that candidates should be given a reasonable opportunity to respond to any concerns raised by officials.

Chow said the election officer only asked about her nationality, as she gave up her British citizenship to run. But she was not asked asked about her political views, though her party has maintained that they do not advocate independence for Hong Kong.

‘Political suppression’

Chow told reporters outside court on Tuesday that her disqualification was not just an individual case.

“If we don’t try to use different means, including those within the system, to seek justice for me and Hong Kong people, the political suppression will get stronger and stronger, the regime will use all ways to suppress people with pro-democracy views,” she said.

Democrat Au Nok-hin – widely seen as her substitute candidate – won the March by-election on Hong Kong Island. Should Chow win the petition, another by-election would have to be launched.

Chow said she has notified Au, and the application was made after careful consideration with her election team.

In a statement, Au said he respected Chow’s decision and he will continue exercising his duties as a lawmaker, as it will take a long time before the case is heard. He said he would not comment on whether he will run again if Chow’s petition succeeded.

Joshua Wong Au Nok-hin Agnes Chow
Joshua Wong, Au Nok-hin and Agnes Chow at a late night street stand in Causeway Bay. Photo: Facebook/Au Nok-hin.

The judgement for Andy Chan’s case was only issued in February – almost 18 months after he filed the challenge.

Edward Leung, then-spokesperson of localist group Hong Kong Indigenous, and Alice Lai, an advocate of Hong Kong’s return to the United Kingdom, also filed election petitions after they were barred from running. They have yet to be heard.

Chow said it was difficult to speculate over the result, or when the results will be released, as her case differed from others.

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.