Fakes 'will not get through' vetting

Finance | Sophie Hui 6 Aug 2021

Who you associate with and what you say in media interviews will be taken into consideration by a committee vetting election candidates, Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu says.

Lee said there will be a "positive list" and a "negative list" to be considered by the vetting committee, which will start working since nomination for election committee candidates begins today.

In an interview with The Standard's sister newspaper Sing Tao Daily, Lee said the positive list includes patriotic behavior, such as safeguarding national security interests and upholding the country's exercise of governance over Hong Kong.

Patriots also have to support and defend the country's system and constitutional order, maintain Hong Kong's stability and prosperity as well as respect one's own nation.

Those who do the opposite would graze the negative list, which includes acts like independence advocacy and insulting the national flag, emblem and anthem or the regional flag and emblem of the SAR. Candidates are also not allowed to seek foreign sanctions on Hong Kong.

"If that person had done something to damage national security, of course, he or she is not a patriot," Lee said.

He said the vetting committee will decide whether the candidates are genuinely upholding the Basic Law and the SAR as they will not allow people who are "faking it" to get through the checks.

"We will check every candidate and we will discuss all information we have in every stage to make an overall assessment," Lee said.

The seven-member committee, chaired by Lee, will refer to public information including what the candidate said and wrote in the past and the person's views.

"This includes the content of interviews and who you associate with," he said. The committee may also ask for additional information or explanations from the candidates, Lee added.

But the vetting committee will not deny any candidate the chance to run in elections just because he or she criticizes or holds opposite opinions from the government, he said.

"But if the person has done something which endangers national security or damages the interests of Hong Kong that is a different story," Lee said.

The vetting committee will gazette candidates who can run in the elections and the number of people who failed to pass the check on August 26. Those who could not get through the vetting stage will know why they failed. They can also file an appeal to a magistrate within seven days.

Lee said the national security law which took effect from June 30 last year is like a "defensive wall" for Hong Kong which brought back the city's stability and safety.

"We also have to ensure that all obstacles to administration will be cleared. It will be much better after the improvement of the electoral system," he said, adding that the government will work on social, housing and livelihood issues after the obstacles are gone.

Lee said Hong Kong has to think about its role in and contribution to the Chinese nation.

Lee said he feels "great responsibility" after assuming his new role and he must do his best to assist Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

He added that governance should be based on the people and the government will get to know what the people need and their difficulties.

The booing of the national anthem in malls amid the Olympics, Lee noted, showed that people have a weak concept of their country and of safeguarding national security. The government and the Education Bureau will exert more effort into national security education.

He said the city has to guard against national security risks including local terrorism and radical thoughts while foreign forces provide funds and agents to damage Hong Kong and ultimately attack China.

The legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law must be done, Lee said, adding the law will be focused on combating spy activities.


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