Reverend Peter Koon, known for being the spokesperson for a murder suspect whose case sparked the anti-extradition bill protests and unrest in 2019, has signed up to stand in the city’s upcoming “patriots only” legislative race.
The Anglican pastor visited the Central Government Offices on Monday to enter his name for next month’s Legislative Council (LegCo) election – Hong Kong’s first general poll under revamped rules laid down by Beijing. Rather than face the public, he will seek a seat via the 1,500-member Election Committee, which will select 40 of the 90 new lawmakers.
Koon said local religious groups have long showed interest in education, healthcare and social welfare issues in the city. Joining the election would not “politicise” the religious sector, he said, adding it would be a “good thing” for religious figures to bring “different voices” to the legislature.
If elected in the polls scheduled to take place on December 19, he will become the first lawmaker representing the religious sector since the city’s handover to China, in 1997.
The election hopeful faced questions from reporters about Chan Tong-kai, who is wanted by the Taiwanese authorities in connection with the death of his girlfriend in Taipei in 2018. Koon has communicated with the media on behalf of Chan, repeatedly saying that Chan would turn himself in after authorities failed to extradite him.
The reverend said he did not want to connect his bid to become a lawmaker with Chan. Whether he joins the legislature or not, Koon said he would do his best to facilitate the murder suspect in “taking responsibility” for his wrongdoing.
“I think everyone knows that the problem is with Taiwan, which hasn’t issued a visa to [Chan] at the moment. I guess this matter is not very related to the election,” he said.
“At the moment, I don’t want to put these two things together, because it is not very fair. If there is any way to help Chan Tong-kai and let him take responsibility for the wrong he did, I will try my best to do so,” he added.
Koon will be competing against at least 39 candidates in the Election Committee constituency, according to nominations received by the election authorities as of Saturday. The competition may heat up if more candidates put their name down before the nomination period ends on Friday.
Next month’s polls will also produce 30 new lawmakers chosen by representatives from 28 special interest groups in the functional constituencies, while only 20 legislators will be directly elected by the general public in 10 redefined geographical constituencies.
In May, Beijing’s electoral amendments reduced democratic representation in the legislature, tightened control of elections and introduced a pro-Beijing vetting panel to select candidates. All candidates will undergo national security checks to ensure they are “patriots.”
The Hong Kong government said the overhaul would ensure the city’s stability and prosperity. But the changes also prompted international condemnation, as it makes it near-impossible for pro-democracy candidates to stand. Most opposition figures, meanwhile, remain behind bars, have fled the city or are barred from running.
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