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Wednesday, August 3, 2016, 10:23

Radical protesters storm LegCo election briefing

By Luis Liu and Li Yinze
Radical protesters storm LegCo election briefing
Protesters storm a briefing session for candidates for the 2016 Legislative Council election in Kowloon Bay on Aug 2, 2016. (Photo by Roy Liu / China Daily)

Radical protesters stormed the briefing session for candidates for the 2016 Legislative Council election on Tuesday evening and attacked government officials — causing considerable disruption to the event.

The briefing was cut short and candidates had to choose their list numbers directly.

The Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) in a statement condemned the protesters’ conduct and expressed great regret over the incident. The EAC called for a return to rational and respectful behavior.

The protesters were expressing their anger after localist party Hong Kong Indigenous’ Edward Leung Tin-kei’s candidacy in the election was rejected for promoting “Hong Kong independence”.

They rushed forward to the rostrum when Chairman of EAC Barnabas Fung Wah was briefing the confirmed candidates and the public on election regulations.

They cursed Fung and the returning officers. One of the protesters even threw a microphone at Fung.

Police officers entered the venue and arrested the violent protesters. Among them was Edward Leung, his party members and supporters, as well as radical lawmakers “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen.

Returning Officer Cora Ho Lai-sheung examined Edward Leung’s previous public remarks and social media posts before deciding that his candidacy was invalid.

Leung had made a U-turn by signing the confirmation form acknowledging certain articles of the Basic Law, agreeing to drop his stance on independence and deleting all his Facebook posts about “Hong Kong independence” last weekend. He said the means were less important than the ends in his bid to get elected.

Cora Ho said she felt that in order to enter LegCo, Leung would take whatever means he felt were necessary – including stopping advocating “Hong Kong independence”. Ho said he is likely to continue to advocate independence if elected.

Leung had vowed to hand in an election petition to the authorities on Sept 5 – one day after the LegCo election is held.

So far, six candidates were disqualified by returning officers, all for similar reasons. Barrister Ronny Tong Ka-wah believed the returning officer has a responsibility and the power to make such decisions. All public statements from a candidate are a reference for the returning officer – not only the confirmation letter, Tong said.

Signing the letter should not be just a procedure, but like taking an oath, he argued.

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