Pro-democracy activists have launched a platform to hold primaries for candidates running in Hong Kong’s upcoming legislative election.

Co-founder of the 2014 Occupy protests Benny Tai, Power for Democracy convener Andrew Chiu and several district council chairs revealed at a press conference on Tuesday that they plan to hold primaries among five directly-elected geographical constituencies, five “super district councillor” seats, as well as the health services sector.

democrats pro democracy 35+ legco legislative council primary election 2020 september au nok hin andrew chiu benny tai
Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

Candidate must obtain at least 100 registered voter nominations and a deposit HK$10,000 in order to participate in the primaries. The election, coordinated by Power for Democracy, is set to take place from July 11-12 between 9 am and 9 pm.

Organisers said they are still looking for polling station venues, which may include street stalls, pro-democracy shops and district councillor offices across the city.

The voting system will be designed by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, which will also conduct polls on the recommended candidates. The surveyed results will be used to consolidate the final list of nominated candidates for the official election in September.

Tai said local politics will face new challenges after Beijing chose to enact national security laws in the city, and democrats could run a higher risk of disqualification: “[T]he candidates and citizens who participate in the civic engagement process… will take up any chance to allow Hong Kong people to demonstrate their determination to fight for democracy.”

democrats pro democracy 35+ legco legislative council primary election 2020 september au nok hin andrew chiu benny tai
Benny Tai. Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

“In the end, the political rights of all candidates supported by the democratic camp may be deprived in the official [Legislative Council] elections. We still think that Hong Kong people must have the chance to practice democratic participation in [the] Hong Kong community.”

“We are not so stupid to give any excuse for the power holders to deprive [us] our fundamental rights. Power holders might be so shameless and unreasonably deny the fundamental rights of Hong Kong people. Justice will prevail and history will tell the truth.”

He added the group anticipates the primaries may be interrupted by the police and people with opposing political views, however, having more polling stations would minimise the risk.

Voters must bring along proof of residency or electoral register identification, as well as a smartphone to designated polling stations. There they will scan the QR code and fill out their personal details before casting their ballot.

Ma Tau Wai Hong Kong District Council election 2019 "November 24"
Ma Tau Wai. Photo: May James/HKFP.

Kwun Tong District Council Chair Choy Chak-hung, who is an organiser in the Kowloon East constituency, said paper ballots would be available to accommodate older voters.

Tai said the platform welcomes any participant who supports the pro-democracy camp’s goal of winning a majority in the Legislative Council election.

He added most potential candidates have told him they are willing to coordinate with organisers, except for political party Civic Passion.

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.