Legislative Council Elections postponed for a year . . .
The Hong Kong government announced today that it is postponing elections for the Legislative Council, initially scheduled for September, by a full year, citing public health concerns amid a recent increase in COVID-19 infections. Chief Executive Carrie Lam denied acting out of any political motivation, but the opposition camp criticized the decision as a disingenuous move intended to avert potential defeats for pro-Beijing legislators in an election likely to be a referendum on the new National Security Law. The postponement will trigger a legal problem: Hong Kong’s Basic Law – the territory’s de facto constitution – imposes a four-year limit on legislators’ terms, which is sure to be violated if elections are not held within a year.
Pro-democracy candidates disqualified . . .
Today’s announcement came a day after the Hong Kong government disqualified 12 pro-democracy candidates from running in the legislative elections over their opposition to the National Security Law and their intention to block government actions if elected. Among the disqualified are high-profile activists Joshua Wong and current Civic Party legislator Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu. The swath of disqualifications is the largest in Hong Kong’s history and is widely seen by opposition figures as evidence of further encroachment on the integrity of elections in the territory.
Part of a broader crackdown on opposition voices . . .
The Hong Kong government’s latest move is part of a broader campaign to dampen opposition voices. On Wednesday, the police made their first round of arrests since the implementation of the National Security Law. They took four students into custody on charges of subversion and incitement of secession online. Six activists in exile, including Nathan Law, head of the now-disbanded pro-democratic party Demosisto, and former British consulate staffer Simon Cheng, are also on a wanted list for inciting secession and colluding with foreign forces, according to Chinese state media. The new wave of crackdowns will likely silence critics in the short term. Still, with a recent Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute survey indicating 64.9 per cent dissatisfaction with the government, it is unclear whether this strategy will genuinely restore stability to Hong Kong in the long term.
- BBC News: Hong Kong postpones elections for a year 'over virus concerns'
- Hong Kong Free Press: Hong Kong police order arrest of Nathan Law and other exiled activists- state media
- South China Morning Post: Hong Kong elections: Mass disqualification of opposition hopefuls sparks political storm