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Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 00:50

Support for declaration acknowledging China’s sovereignty

By Shadow Li

HONG KONG - Political leaders in the SAR say they support a decision by the Electoral Affairs Commission to ask candidates intending to take part in September’s legislature election to sign a form acknowledging Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China.

The leaders believe that the move by the commission is in line with the Basic Law - as those who are elected to the next Legislative Council term will need to take an oath before assuming office.

Elsie Leung Oi-sie, vice-chairwoman of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee of the National People’s Congress, warned earlier that breaking the oath will be criminally liable.

Outgoing Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said the confirmation form is a reasonable request. Responding to questions at the end-of-term press conference last Friday, Tsang said if an elected lawmaker holds a political stance totally contradictory with his or her oath, he or she should be made accountable for that.

The nomination period for the Legislative Council election runs from July 16 to 29. The commission had received a total of 47 nomination forms by Monday.

Candidates from the opposition camp and localist groups have refused to sign the form. They are set to meet with the Electoral Affairs Commission Chairman Barnabas Fung Wah to discuss the matter today (Tuesday).

The government has explained the rationale behind the move. It said the form will avoid uncertainty and confusion to voters as it clears the question of whether the candidates’ nominations are valid or not.

Advocating and promoting “independence of Hong Kong” goes right against the declaration candidates are to make, namely to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR.

According to the Electoral Affairs Commission (Electoral Procedure) (Legislative Council) Regulation, if a person knowingly makes a false statement in a material particular, recklessly makes an incorrect statement in a material particular or omits a material particular in an election-related document, then they are committing an offense and are liable to a fine of HK$5,000 and imprisonment for six months.

Former top advisor to the Hong Kong government Lau Siu-kai from the Chinese University of Hong Kong said that since candidates in past elections were required by election law to sign the declaration to uphold the Basic Law in its entirety, the additional confirmation form, which contains specific articles in the Basic Law, is an unwritten, but self-evident agreement. The difference is that now the additional declaration will be put in black and white.

The move will impose political pressure on some of the candidates unsure about whether or not to differentiate their political platforms from the separatist groups’ agenda. Those refusing to sign the form will show their disinclination to draw a clear line from separatists. This will probably lead to a loss of support from the majority of Hong Kong voters, Lau warned.

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