Pro-Beijing lawmakers in Hong Kong say it would be unfair if legislative councillors who also sit on two of China’s most powerful political bodies lose their seats on the Election Committee, which chooses the city’s leader, if they are not re-elected in December’s legislative elections.

Wong Kwok-kin. File Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

At a bills committee meeting to discuss the electoral overhaul on Monday, pro-Beijing lawmakers Wong Kwok-kin of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and Ma Fung-kwok asked government officials if some lawmakers could lose their seat on the Election Committee despite being delegates to the National People’s Congress (NPC) or the Chinese People’s Political Conference (CPPCC).

An NPCSC meeting. File photo: Gov.cn.

Under the overhaul, all lawmakers as well as NPC and CPPCC delegates will be ex-officio members of the Election Committee, by virtue of their seats in the Hong Kong legislature, in the NPC or the CPPCC delegations. But for individuals who are dual ex officio members, the Improving Electoral System Bill 2021 requires that they must only register in the subsector dedicated to lawmakers and forgo the possibility of being a committee member using their NPC or CPPCC titles.

There are currently 12 legislators who also hold titles as NPC or CPPCC delegates.

“If [a lawmaker] doesn’t contest in the December LegCo election, or if he does contest in the election but loses it, then he would lose his eligibility as a LegCo member, but he cannot at the same time come back to the NPC or CPPCC capacity. As a result he would lose his office [on the Election Committee,]” Ma said. “I’m one of them.”

Ma Fung-kwok. Photo: LegCo webcast.

Wong raised a similar question: “If they don’t get re-elected… they will be forced to lose their seat,” Wong said. “I don’t think that is fair.”

Ma urged Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB) officials to consider giving these lawmakers the option to register in either of the two subsectors, “or it would be very unreasonable,” he said.

But CMAB Permanent Secretary Roy Tang said responded that the arrangement was baked into Annexes I and II of the Basic law by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC).

“It would seem that we don’t have another solution to this, because that is the decision of the NPCSC,” Tang said.

Legal challenge

Separately, activist Kwok Cheuk-kin, nicknamed the “king of judicial reviews” filed a bid to challenge the election overhaul bill on Monday, InMedia reported.

Kwok Cheuk-kin. Photo: Inmediahk.net via CC2.0,

His application argues that the Improving Electoral System Bill 2021 violates the Hong Kong’s Bill of Rights Ordinances by restricting people’s right to elect and be elected, while replacing 117 district councillors’ seats from the Election Committee with area committee seats — which are nominated by the government — would cause conflicts of interest.

However, Hong Kong’s delegate to the NPC Maria Tam previously said that NPCSC decisions cannot be subject to legal challenges.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.