More than 10,000 police officers will be stationed around Hong Kong during the first legislative election under the revamped system next month, as the city’s number two official hails the “patriots only” polls as marking the beginning of “good governance.”
See also: Explainer: Hong Kong’s first legislative election since Beijing’s ‘patriots-only’ overhaul
Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu said on Saturday that the force will deploy over 10,000 officers on the Legislative Council (LegCo) election day scheduled for December 19 to ensure the polls will be held smoothly and safely.
Plainclothes police and special duty officers will be on standby as the government sets up more than 620 polling stations across the city. Siu warned against any attempt to interfere or disrupt the election, saying police will “resolutely enforce the law.”
“The LegCo election is a very important election… deploying so much police manpower… is also for ensuring the safety of all citizens who go to vote,” the police chief told the press after the passing-out parade at the Hong Kong Police College.
Siu also condemned the threatening letters received by LegCo candidates and judges recently, saying such behaviour was “sneaky” and “naïve.” He said the cases were passed on to the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, adding that he could not disclose details about the investigation at the moment.
Next month’s legislative race will the city’s first general election after Beijing ordered sweeping electoral changes to ensure only “patriots” hold power. Under the overhaul, the general public will only elect 20 out of the 90 seats in the legislature. The rest will be selected by largely Beijing-friendly interest groups such as tourism, accounting and legal sectors, as well as a 1,500-seat Election Committee.
All election hopefuls were vetted to ensure they abide by the Beijing-imposed national security law and will pledge allegiance to the government. Traditional opposition parties have put forward no candidates, while many pro-democracy figures are behind bars, in self-exile abroad, are barred from running or have quit politics.
On Saturday, Chief Secretary John Lee praised the upcoming polls as a “competitive and quality” election that will select lawmakers who will help “build Hong Kong.” He said in previous elections where “anti-China disrupting Hong Kong” candidates were present, the debates had centred on political stance rather than a serious discussion on political platforms and policy initiatives.
“Campaign activities are unlike those personal attacks and farce in the past… [candidates] no longer just rail against each other, they show a quality election with competition,” Lee wrote in his blog.
Lee went on to say that the LegCo election was not “monotone,” as it attracted elites from various sectors and from across the political spectrum. He said that, under the common aspiration of being “patriots,” the new legislators will not be “traitors” who “resist the central and mainland [authorities]” and collude with foreign forces.
“Through this election… the Legislative Council will get rid of the indefinite internal friction… and the chaos of hijacking the Two Systems and rejecting One Country,” Lee said.
He added: “The legislative branch will monitor the executive branch, and have positive interaction… laying new grounds for good governance.”
Earlier this month, it was announced that around 800 staff from the Independent Commission Against Corruption will also be deployed at polling stations.
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