Push to delay polls if violence persists

Top News | Jane Cheung 8 Nov 2019

The District Council elections should be postponed if violence continues a week before the polls, says Executive Council member Ip Kwok-him.

This came a day after pro-establishment lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu was stabbed during an election campaign and escaped with a 1.5-centimeter chest wound.

But a pan-democratic election concern group yesterday warned that delaying the November 24 elections would have an adverse impact.

Speaking on a radio program, Ip, also a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress, questioned the ability of the government to maintain a fair environment for candidates.

He said the government should decide by November 17 if the polls would be postponed.

"The attack on Ho can be treated as a warning and some candidates are worried about their safety," he said. "There should be an objective standard in what circumstances the election should be delayed."

Ip said if the elections are postponed they must be rescheduled within 14 days.

But if the unrest continues and the elections are not held within the period, it would create a huge problem as the District Council would be put on hold.

The government has said the elections may be pushed back by a week to December 1. Beyond that, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau will have to submit a bill to the Legislative Council for it to approve a new election date.

"Under the current social atmosphere and the situation in Legco, the bill is unlikely to be passed within a short period," said Ip. "Then the District Council will see a vacuum after January 1."

He added: "The election probably can't be arranged in one to two years.It will also affect the operation of the Legco."

More than 100 people from the pro-establishment camp organized a silent march from the government headquarters to the Electoral Affairs Commission's office in Central, calling for a guarantee for a fair and safe election.

Pan-democratic election concern group Election Observation Project opposed any postponement and urged the Electoral Affairs Commission to announce contingency plans to ensure the elections are held as scheduled.

It suggested the government invite international experts to monitor the elections.

"Delaying the election will only make people feel the government lacks credibility and will cause even greater social conflicts," said Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, a politics scholar at the Baptist University, who is a member of the project.

jane.cheung@singtaonewscorp.com

Editorial: Axing polls would just fuel this crisis

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