Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong has slammed the decision to disqualify him from the November 24 District Council election.

Laura Aron, the electoral officer, disqualified him from running because she did not believe Wong had abandoned the idea that Hong Kong independence could be a choice for Hongkongers if they are granted self-determination to decide upon their own future.

However, he said he has never proactively advocated for independence as an option, and Aron was in the business of “mind-reading” by subjectively interpreting his words.

Joshua Wong Kelvin Lam
Joshua Wong and Kelvin Lam. Photo: Liona Li/Supplied.

“The returning officer has repeatedly twisted and misunderstood my political views, it shows that Beijing has given a strict order to disqualify me,” he said.

“The only reason for my disqualification is that my name is Joshua Wong,” he added.

Wong asked the public to protest this weekend in solidarity: “I urge the international community to voice concern about political vetting in Hong Kong,” he said.

He said the top priority now should be to ensure the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is passed in the US. Then he may consider filing an election petition.

Dorothy Ma Laura Liang Aron
From left: Dorothy Ma and Laura Liang Aron. Photo: GovHK.

It is the first time that a District Council election nominee has been barred from running. Wong remains the only one disqualified from the November race.

He first submitted his nomination form on October 4. The returning officer responsible for the constituency was originally district officer Dorothy Ma, who asked about Wong’s political stance twice. But Ma went on sick leave last week and Aron then took over, asking Wong the question for a third time.

Wong apologised to South Horizons constituency voters: “I don’t know how many times the government has to disqualify me before 2047,” he said.

Financier Kelvin Lam, a confirmed candidate, will be running as Wong’s “plan B” replacement candidate in the constituency.

“We will not stop our work because Joshua Wong is disqualified,” Lam said.

The pair, alongisde several pro-democracy figures, chanted “Oppose disqualification! Shame on political vetting!” during a press event outside the legislature on Tuesday.

Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai said: “Disqualifying Wong would only extend the current crisis.”

As they spoke, a group of pro-Beijing protesters nearby chanted: “Han traitor! Shut up!”

They sang patriotic songs including the Chinese national anthem. “Long live China! Long live the Communist Party!” they said.

New People’s Party incumbent district councillor Judy Chan is also running in the constituency.

Judy Chan
Judy Chan. File Photo: inmediahk.net.

Responding to Wong’s disqualification, Chan said: “I believe the returning officer has her legal basis to do so.”

“I hope the election will carry on safely and smoothly,” she added.

She claimed that shops supporting her had to remove her posters, after residents threatened online to damage the shops.

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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.