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Wednesday, August 31, 2016, 01:03

Govt may act against candidates promoting independence

By Luis Liu

HONG KONG - The government warned in an official statement on Tuesday that it may "take action" in accordance with the law against Legislative Council candidates advocating or promoting Hong Kong independence during their campaigns.

The announcement came four days before the election day on Sunday.

"The government has always been striving to ensure that public elections in Hong Kong are held in strict accordance with the law, openly, honestly and fairly, in line with the expectations of the community at large," the government spokesman said.

The spokesman said the government noticed that some candidates have "advocated or promoted" the “Hong Kong independence notions” during their campaign.

He explained that such behavior goes against the statutory declaration that the candidates will uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR which they signed before their nomination was validated.

Thus, the government reserves the right to take follow-up action in accordance with the law, the spokesman said.

The spokesman did not specify which ordinance it will apply to address the issue. According to Section 42B of the Legislative Council Ordinance, if after the returning officer has decided that a candidate is validly nominated for election, but before election day, proof is given to the satisfaction of the returning officer that the candidate is disqualified from being nominated as a candidate, the officer must disqualify the candidate and give notice of a change of decision.

In terms of honesty, according to the city's Crimes Ordinance, any person who knowingly and willfully makes a false statement in a statutory declaration is liable to imprisonment for up to two years.

After an election, an elected lawmaker will be disqualified from office if he or she is in breach of oath by a vote of two-thirds of the members of the LegCo. This is listed in Article 79 of the Basic Law.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying stressed that any advocacy of "Hong Kong independence" in educational institutions violates the Basic Law and Hong Kong’s constitutional status.

Speaking to reporters prior to the weekly Executive Council meeting, Leung said that Hong Kong is part of China was not open to debate. Schools should take a stand that firmly acknowledges this.

He also recalled that in last year’s Policy Address, he had already mentioned the trend of advocating "Hong Kong independence" after observing books and articles.

"Being the city’s leader, I have a responsibility to warn people against such notions," Leung said, adding that every Hong Kong resident has the responsibility to safeguard national sovereignty.

Localist groups had earlier called for extensive discussions of the subject at secondary schools. They also urged groups in support of separatism to take part in student unions.

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