Council hopefuls tackle stance grillingTop News | Cindy Wan 16 Oct 2019
At least five nominees for next month's district council elections - including prominent young activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung - have been quizzed by returning officers over their political stance and support for self-determination.
Three of them were asked to explain the anti-fugitive law protest slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" that they had posted on social media.
The move by returning officers again raises the specter of nominated candidates being prescreened for their political views even before they are allowed to run in elections.
Incumbent Sha Tin district councillor Billy Chan Shiu-yeung and activists Fleco Mo Kai-hong and Tommy Cheung Sau-yin received letters asking them to explain the slogan they had posted on Facebook.
Two of them stressed that although the word "revolution" is in the slogan, it does not mean overthrowing the regime. Chan wrote: "I understand 'liberate Hong Kong' to mean recovering the core values of the people of Hong Kong, which always belong to them, and making those values - such as rule of law, freedom and so on - shine again. As for "Revolution of our times," he said it carries two meanings.
"First it refers to the breakthrough of thinking, from the old money-making mindset to a new era where one would stand up for injustice and bravely express him or herself.
"Second, it refers to the breakthrough of a political reform to attain universal suffrage which is promised in the Basic Law, and is one of the five demands."
Cheung, who hopes to run in Yuen Long, said the slogan refers to a structural change in society and people's mindset.
He said he does not agree with the notion of Hong Kong independence and has always supported the Basic Law.
Mo, a nominee for the Yuen Long Wang Yat constituency, said he saw the slogan on a Lennon wall, took a picture and shared it.
It was not written by him and does not represent his political stance, he said.
Demosisto's secretary-general Wong, who submitted nominations to run in South Horizons West in the Southern District, was asked about his affiliation with Demosisto and whether he supports self-determination.
In response, Wong said Hongkongers should have a say in the city's future after one country, two systems comes to an end in 2047.
"I don't support Hong Kong going for independence. As for Demosisto's advocacy on self-determination, my understanding is that it does not have actual binding power and that it does not go against the constitution, the Basic Law as well as the Sino-British Joint Declaration's principles," he wrote.
Activist Henry Wong Pak-yu, nominated to run for the Tin Heng constituency, was asked if he supports independence. Wong said he changed his mind after the re-interpretation of the Basic Law by the National People's Congress in 2016.