Trio challenge election body over 'political screening'

Top News | Adeline Mak 26 Jul 2016

Three pro-independence and radical pan- democrat candidates yesterday filed a judicial review at High Court challenging the Electoral Affairs Commission for misinterpreting the law when it included an extra confirmation form for candidates in September's Legislative Council elections.

The High Court will hear the case -filed in two separate writs by Hong Kong Indigenous' Edward Leung Tin- kei, League of Social Democrats chairman Avery Ng Man-yuen and vice chairman Derek Chan Tak-cheung - tomorrow afternoon.

The new election measure requires candidates to sign a declaration that they will uphold the Basic Law, which is seen as a means to bar pro- independence candidates.

Two writs were filed by the representatives of the two parties.

As the nomination period for the Legislative Council election will close at 5pm on Friday, the applicants sought an urgent hearing to quash the decision by the EAC and a declaration that the returning officers have no power to inquire or decide whether a candidate is bona fide in signing the declaration accompanying the nomination form.

Leung, who intends to run for the election in the New Territories East constituency, submitted a nomination form without signing the extra form on July 16.

On Friday, Leung received an e-mail from the returning officer asking whether he will strive for independence of Hong Kong even though he has pledged allegiance.

"It amounted to political screening and misinterpretation of the law," Leung said.

"According to the ordinance, the returning officer does not have the right to impose political censorship on me. They do not have the right to issue a confirmation letter for all candidates."

Ng and Chan, who intend to run for the election in the Kowloon West constituency, planned to submit a nomination form on Saturday, but changed their minds after obtaining legal advice.

Barrister Martin Lee Chu-ming and Hectar Pun Hei, representing the applicants, argued in the writ that the EAC has "misinterpreted the law and/ or acted ultra vires in prescribing the confirmation form."

They added: "If the returning officer is allowed to inquire into the bona fides of a candidate in signing the declaration and the question, it is tantamount to empowering the returning officer to ascertain the political view of the candidate in order to determine whether he is validly nominated."

The Registration and Electoral Office said it will deliberate with the Department of Justice.

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