Hong Kong Legislative Elections could be postponed by a year

  • AseanPlus News
  • Tuesday, 28 Jul 2020

Customers wearing protective masks sit inside a Classified restaurant outlet at a closed Repulse Bay beach in Hong Kong on Tuesday (July 28). The island has been taken off-guard by the sudden jump of infections after managing to contain the spread locally as it tore across the world. Officials are now scrambling to slow what they're calling a third wave, while boosting health-care facilities that are reaching capacity. - Bloomberg

HONG KONG, July 28 (dpa): Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday was set to discuss a potential postponement of the September Legislative Council (LegCo) elections by up to a year with the Executive Council, according to reports.

The poll could be postponed due to concerns over the city's current spike in Covid-19 cases, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported on Tuesday.

Hong Kong is battling a third wave of coronavirus as the skyrocketing number of daily local transmissions brought back some restrictions in the city, which had previously been lauded for keeping case numbers under control.

The city has so far reported 2,779 infections and 22 deaths from the disease.

On July 11 and 12 a record 610,000 Hong Kongers voted in the primary elections for the pro-Democratic camp.

The goal of the "Democrat Camp 35+ Primary Election" was to gain a majority of 35 or more seats (more than half) in the September election, a move which would give them more power to veto pro-establishment legislation.

On Monday, the government announced that wearing masks would become mandatory in all public places and that gatherings of no more than two people, down from four, would be allowed.

Restaurants will also close their doors to in-house diners, with only take-away meals available for a week, pending review.

News of Lam's special meeting was met with criticism from several members of the opposition camp.

Democrat Party Lawmaker Ted Hui said he thought the government was more worried that they would loose the election than the spreading of Covid-19.

"It does not make sense to postpone the election," he said. "[There are] no scientific grounds to support the decision.

Two key organizers of the pan-democratic primary elections withdrew days just days after the masses had cast their votes, after Beijing said the vote could violate national security law.

The new national security law, which was swiftly gazetted into an annex of Hong Kong's basic law, amid international outcry, targets acts of terrorism, subversion, calls for independence and collusion with foreign forces.

The law aimed to stamp-out what remained of the 2019 protest movement, in response to a now withdrawn extradition bill which would have seen dissidents facing trial in mainland China.

The protests were first paused in January because of the coronavirus pandemic. They have been quashed by a crackdown by the police and now by legislation which has made protest activities such as singing a popular protest anthem, "Glory to Hong Kong," illegal.

Popular protest slogans displayed on flags, posters and stickers have also been made illegal, while legal assemblies have been cancelled due to the virus and a police crackdown on demonstrations.

Well know activist Joshua Wong, who ran for a seat in the upcoming elections after being barred from previous polls alleged that the government were using the pandemic as an excuse to postpone the election.

"Clearly hygiene measures can be stepped-up like we did during voting at the primaries," he said. "The government is interfering with an election that used to be free and fair, either disqualifying my candidacy or to call off the election."

Clarity on whether the upcoming 2020 Legislative Council election in Hong Kong will be postponed will have to wait until the end of the week, after authorities were granted an extension on Tuesday on announcing the decision.

Lam is now expected to make the announcement on Friday, according to local media sources.

The poll could be postponed due to concerns about the city's current spike in Covid-19 cases, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported earlier on Tuesday. - dpa
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