Mon, Mar 12, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Scuffles at polls in HK by-elections

ANOTHER TRY:Four elections were held yesterday to choose replacements for four pro-democracy lawmakers disqualified from their seats in the Legislative Council

AFP, HONG KONG

A supporter, left, of pro-Beijing candidate Vincent Cheng shouts at a supporter, right, of pro-democracy candidate Edward Yiu yesterday during polling for four Legislative Council by-elections in Hong Kong.

Photo: AFP

Hong Kong’s best-known young activists were heckled yesterday by Chinese nationalists in tense scenes as the territory’s pro-democracy camp tries to claw back lost seats in controversial by-elections.

High-profile candidate Agnes Chow (周庭) was barred from standing because her party promotes self-determination for the territory.

Soon after polls opened, several men and a woman heckled Chow as well as leading pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) and Nathan Law (羅冠聰) near a polling station where they were supporting pro-democracy candidate Au Nok-hin (區諾軒), according to a reporter at the scene.

One of the men barged into Wong, who led mass demonstrations in 2014 calling for greater democratic freedoms.

“Traitors and running dogs!” a man repeatedly yelled — insults commonly used by Beijing loyalists against political opponents — while others hurled obscenities.

Wong told reporters that threats to freedoms in the territory “prove that it’s more necessary for us to vote.”

The by-election was triggered after Beijing forced the disqualification of six lawmakers who had swept to victory in elections in 2016.

Some were former protest leaders, while others openly advocated independence.

All six were ousted from their posts for inserting protests into their oaths of office.

Four of the six vacant seats were being contested yesterday.

Au said it was a “vote for justice” after stepping in to contest the Hong Kong Island seat after Chow was disallowed.

However, pro-establishment politician Judy Chan (陳家珮), standing against Au, said the vote was a chance for “the silent majority, who are tired of a politicized Hong Kong, who detest those who humiliate the country” to push out destabilizing opponents.

Democracy activists urged voters to the polls, as by 6:30pm only 31 percent of the 2.1 million eligible voters had turned out, lower than the rate in the landmark elections of 2016.

Some voters hoped a legislature weighted more toward the pro-Beijing establishment would help on livelihood issues, but others were worried about rule of law in the territory.

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