An executive councillor has suggested that the Hong Kong chief executive election ordinance should be amended to require that designated voters uphold the Basic Law, following the enactment of national security legislation.
Ahead of the 2022 small-circle election, up to 1,200 eligible voters from various sectors will be chosen next year.
Democrats were optimistic about securing all 117 out of 1,200 seats in the election committee that were dedicated to district councillors. The sector was previously dominated by the pro-establishment camp, but democrats won a landslide victory in last November’s District Council race, claiming a majority at 17 out of 18 councils.
Ronny Tong – a member of Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s cabinet – told NowTV that Article 6 of the national security law has a legal basis for requiring selected voters to uphold the mini-constitution and pledge allegiance to the Special Administrative Region: “Winners are not government officials under the Basic Law… However, in view of the passage of the law to safeguard national security, there is a need to impose these requirements to candidates who wish to stand in the election committee elections.”
Tong’s comment came after Beijing’s rubber-stamp congress introduced the controversial new legislation on June 30, bypassing the legislature, to criminalise subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers.
Article 6 of the security law states that a resident who “stands for election or assumes public office” shall confirm in writing – or take an oath – to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to Hong Kong. It also asserts a common responsibility for all Hong Kong residents to safeguard China’s sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity.
Crackdown on democrats
Dozens of pro-democracy activists – including district councillors and lawmakers – have been vocal about their opposition to the security legislation – both in public and on social media. Last Thursday, 12 legislative elections candidates were barred from the now-postponed race after electoral officers deemed they were not faithfully upholding the mini-constitution. Some of the candidates’ pledges to “relentlessly oppose the national security law” were cited in their reasoning.
Four incumbent lawmakers vying for reelection were among those barred from the race, which will now take place next September owing to the Covid-19 outbreak.
However, since the four-year legislative term ended in July, it is unclear if the four may return to the legislature as acting members, or if Beijing will strip them of their status.