NPC vote won't sit easy with pan-dems

Top News | Carine Chow and Amy Nip 11 Aug 2020

Carine Chow and Amy Nip

The National People's Congress will vote today on measures to facilitate the one-year transition of the Legislative Council until the postponed election is held, as its representatives warm up to the idea of allowing all lawmakers to stay on.

Its standing committee will decide whether existing lawmakers disqualified from the postponed election can continue to sit in the council during the coming year.

Local NPC deputies like Raymond Tam Chi-yuen had suggested that all lawmakers - including the four disqualified pan-dems - could stay on if they swear allegiance to the Basic Law again. Executive councillor Ip Kwok-himalso said that he personally thought such an arrangement is possible.

However, the pan-democrat camp will be thrown into a dilemma if that is the case.

Eddie Chu Hoi-dick said the arrest of Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and Next Media executives would make more people support the camp in boycotting Legco altogether and that the camp should not rush into a decision but gauge more public opinion.

This came as China and Five Eyes alliance traded words on the postponement.

The alliance called upon Hong Kong to reinstate disqualified candidates and resume its elections as soon as possible, while the Chinese embassy in Canada accused the five countries in the alliance of intervening in internal affairs.

The top diplomats of the five countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand,the United Kingdom and the United States - issued a joint statement on Sunday, saying they were "gravely concerned by the Hong Kong government's unjust disqualification of candidates and disproportionate postponement of Legislative Council elections."

"These moves have undermined the democratic process that has been fundamental to Hong Kong's stability and prosperity," the alliance said, while also expressing "deep concern" over Beijing's imposition of the national security law, saying it is "eroding the Hong Kong people's fundamental rights and liberties".

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor invoked emergency powers last month to postpone Legco polls by a year, citing health risks of voting amid Covid-19.

Twelve pro-democracy or localist candidates were also disqualified from running, for reasons, including opposition to the law, perceived subversive intentions, and not having a genuine and true intention to uphold the Basic Law.

In response to the alliance, the Chinese embassy in Ottawa said "the Hong Kong government's decision in postponing the election is rightful and just to safeguard public health and fair elections."

"After the handover, China has already fulfilled its obligations to the UK under the Sino-British Joint Declaration," it said.

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