Thu, Jul 21, 2016 - Page 6 News List

HK candidates must give pledge

Reuters, HONG KONG

Candidates in Hong Kong’s September elections must by law pledge that the territory is an “inalienable” part of China and advocating independence could end their candidacy, the head of the Electoral Affairs Commission said.

The comments come after the commission and the Hong Kong government sparked anger by saying candidates for the Legislative Council elections, which includes pro-democracy and independence activists, are required to declare in a new confirmation form that the territory falls directly under the central government in Beijing.

The Hong Kong government also said that advocating and promoting independence was “contrary” to that declaration and could render a candidate ineligible.

The commission said anyone making a false declaration was “liable to criminal sanction.”

“The introduction of the Confirmation Form has sound legal basis. The measure [is] entirely based on legal and procedural considerations,” commission chairman Justice Barnabas Fung Wah (馮驊) told Hong Kong lawmakers on Tuesday, according to a printed version of the remarks.

Relations between Hong Kong and Beijing have frayed in recent years amid pro-democracy protests, a failed bid for electoral reform and instances where Hong Kong residents said Beijing is breaking the “one country, two systems” agreement — such as the alleged abduction of five men who worked for a publishing house and its bookstore known for their gossipy books about China’s leaders.

There is also a small but vocal minority of activists calling for outright independence.

“There have been comments and proposals in the public arena which have deviated from ‘one country, two systems’ and the constitutional status of Hong Kong as prescribed in the Basic Law. In this regard, there are public concerns on whether candidates fully understand the Basic Law,” Fung said.

A candidate who fails to submit the confirmation form may be asked for further information and election officers — with input from the Hong Kong Department of Justice — may declare the candidacy invalid, the commission said.

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