At least nine Hong Kong democrats received letters from electoral officers on Saturday demanding answers about their positions on the national security law, US sanctions and other issues after they applied to run in the 2020 Legislative Council election.
The pro-democracy candidates involved included Civic Party members Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Tat Cheng. Former reporter Gwyneth Ho, Sunny Cheung, Ventus Lau and District Councillors Fergus Leung and Tiffany Yuen also received letters from returning officers, requiring a response within a day.
According to Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung on Facebook, the authorities asked if he would continue to urge the US to impose sanctions on Hong Kong, citing his previous meetings with American officials. The New Territories East electoral officer questioned how Yeung’s lobbying would fulfil the election nomination form requirement that candidates must swear allegiance to the Basic Law and the HKSAR.
“Your words and actions to ask overseas countries to make laws targeting the HKSAR and imposing sanctions are in fact using the power of foreign governments to put pressure on the HKSAR government, as well as letting foreign countries interfere in the internal affairs of the HKSAR,” the letter claimed.
The electoral officer also grilled Yeung about his pledge to ensure all Civic Party members will vote against all government motions, bills and funds if the chief executive does not meet the protest movement’s demands in her upcoming policy address. He was asked to explain how such a stance would meet the allegiance requirement.
Civil Assembly Team spokesman Ventus Lau, on the other hand, was asked if he was against Beijing’s decision to formulate the legislation that criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference. Lau has to give answers as to whether he opposes the city fulfilling its constitutional duty to safeguard national security and whether he is still advocating and promoting Hong Kong independence.
Some candidates who took part in the democratic primary election two weeks ago were asked if they would veto the government’s motions if the pro-democracy camp secured more than 35 seats gain a majority in the legislature.
The letters sparked concerns over disqualification, with candidates required to give a response by noon – or in the afternoon – on Sunday. If they failed to meet the deadline, the electoral authorities would review the validity of their nominations based on “relevant laws” and information.
The Civic Party slammed the electoral authorities as “serious interfering” in the election, adding that the time allowed for candidates to respond was “unreasonably short” and “pressurising.” The party members concerned had written to the electoral officers to request a postponement of the deadline until 6 pm on Monday.
“It is an act of filtering candidates for the regime, a serious interference in the election and violates the basic principles in a fair election,” the party said in a statement.
Correction 18.9.20: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the democrats had received letters from officers at the Electoral Affairs Commission. They received them from returning officers.