Hong Kong’s decision to field 12 pro-democracy candidates for office sets a widespread precedent and could signal the end of meaningful political protest in the city.
The group has been disqualified from contesting the upcoming election to the city’s Legislative Council, which includes prominent student activist Joshua Wong, but also moderates and four incumbents such as Alvin Young, who represents Hong Kong accountants.
More radical candidates have been barred from running first, and others from assuming office after winning. But the latest rules state that officials also want to eliminate resentment resenting from the halls of power. Many were elected in primary elections that attracted hundreds of thousands of voters.
“Apparently the Chinese Communist Party decided to take this opportunity of the upcoming election to show the Hong Kong people and the rest of the world that they have redesigned the whole game,” Kenneth Chan, a political scientist at the Hong Kong Captist -Lok said. University, and former pro-democracy lawmaker.
“It is no longer a one-country, two-system,” he said, adding that the system further agrees with British colonial rule citing Hong Kong, which meant guaranteeing sufficient autonomy to the city by 2047. “Moderates … We are moving very fast towards the one-party system in Hong Kong.”
Lecturer Kai Chi Leung of the Chinese University of Chinese High-Level Journalism and Communications said that the disqualification was created by low-level returning officers, but is likely to be approved at a higher level.
“In last year’s district council election we actually had a returning officer who was not prepared to disqualify a candidate and had to ask for sick leave so that another person could take his place (and on the paper of disqualification Sign), “she said.
“It is likely that steps have been taken in this round to select returning officers so that such an embarrassing situation does not occur again.”
Reasons for the sanctions included opposition to the controversial national security law that Beijing brought to the city last month, and attempted to lobby foreign governments for restrictions on human rights abuses.
These operations were carried out before the National Security Act was enacted. But largely in a disturbing sign of how the authorities could implement it, a returning officer said the earlier legal conduct gave an insight into the candidates’ “true intentions”, which caused them to disappoint .
“This is an outrageous political sanctity of Hong Kong’s democracies,” Chris Patton, the last British governor of Hong Kong, said in a statement. “It is clearly illegal to believe in democracy now … This is the kind of behavior you would expect in a police state.”
There is little room for appeal; Previous attempts to reverse the disqualification succeeded only on technical grounds, and officials followed a careful process this year.
The disqualification comes in the same week that a prominent professor was sacked for his pro-democracy campaigning, and the arrest of four young activists facing life in prison under the National Security Act.
There are also reports that elections may be delayed, leaving more room for authorities to effectively end the political system that has given Hong Kong a limited form of democracy and autonomy for 23 years.
“This could end protests inside the system, as it may be completely impossible or irrelevant to re-run election laws,” said Leung.