Election forum scrapped due to tense time

Top News | Amy Nip 26 Jun 2019

Controversial topics that include the introduction of a "confirmation form" in the upcoming district council elections and plans for public-private cooperation on land development have been hit by the current tense atmosphere in public affairs.

The Electoral Affairs Commission yesterday canceled a public forum meant to discuss proposed guidelines for November 24's district council election, citing risks to public safety.

The decision was made less than five hours before its scheduled start at 7pm.

People were being "invited to express their views at the forum," a commission spokesman said. But "the commission has to consider the safety of all participants," he added, and the decision to cancel followed a "risk assessment."

In fact, online calls had been made for people attending the forum to voice opposition to the introduction of the confirmation form intended to screen candidates.

The form was introduced in the last Legislative Council election in 2016, requiring candidates to acknowledge the SAR's status as an inalienable part of China. It led to the disqualification of then localist leader Edward Leung Tin-kei.

But a 30-day public consultation period is under way on the elections and lasts until July 10, and people can submit written views.

Also yesterday, Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun said in the legislature that his bureau was to have submitted a plan on public-private cooperation on housing development to the chief executive by July.

Now it will spend more time preparing for the pilot scheme, and there is no target date for delivery.

Under an envisaged development model, there will be government help for providing basic infrastructure on private land. Developers owning the land will in turn build flats, and up to 70 percent will be public housing.

Wong disagreed officials had been "paralyzed," but he said society needs some "quiet" amid the tense atmosphere. Also, plans for projects could roll out more slowly to allow additional time to provide explanations to the public.

And in the Finance Committee, discussion of building public housing at Wang Chau has been postponed due to the pro-democracy camp's opposition to the project.

amy.nip@singtaonewscorp.com

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