No district council by-electionsTop News | Michael Shum 21 Jul 2021
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor discounted the idea of by-elections being organized in the near future after more than 200 out of 479 district councillors resigned amid disqualification threats.
Lam said the administration will instead look to other ways to gauge public opinion, such as strengthening the role of area committees appointed by the Home Affairs Department.
Speaking before an Executive Council meeting yesterday, Lam said it would be "almost impossible" to mount a wave of by-elections before the administration's term ends next June.
Hong Kong will have to hold three elections in the next nine to 10 months for the Election Committee in September, the Legislative Council in December and the chief executive in March.
"We do not feel there is sufficient room and time for another set of by-elections, especially of this magnitude because of the number of seats involved," Lam said.
With 225 of 479 district councillors remaining as of Friday, Lam said the administration has started to extend consultations.
Area committees are taking more active roles in providing advice, and district officers under the Home Affairs Department will also be more proactive in constituencies.
Officials will address issues through the work of district management committees.
The administration has, meanwhile, almost finished preparations for district councillors to pledge allegiance to the SAR and to uphold the Basic Law.
For those who have been disqualified, Lam said, authorities will handle the issue of their pay in accordance with the law, and leniency is out of the question.
Her remarks came after claims that disqualified councillors could be asked to repay more than HK$1 million each in wages and paid expenses, though authorities will not pursue those who resigned earlier.
That prompted pro-democracy district councillors to resign, with the Central and Western district council and Wong Tai Sin district council having only three councillors left from an original 15 and 25 respectively.
Lam said during the same briefing that now is the best time for those who have a sense of belonging and willingness to work hard in Hong Kong.
"After implementing the national security law and electoral changes, national security and political security can be effectively safeguarded," she said. "With the central government's help, Hong Kong has endless opportunities in the Greater Bay Area."
Lam also dismissed concerns over the migration of Hongkongers, remarking that people have from time to time departed in Hong Kong's history.