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2021-03-01 HKT 17:20
Lawmaker and Basic Law Committee member Priscilla Leung has called for a special committee to be set up to vet potential candidates who plan to take part in local elections.
The Business and Professionals Alliance legislator made the suggestion on Monday at a forum in Shenzhen to discuss electoral reforms in Hong Kong, a day after former National People's Congress Standing Committee member Rita Fan put forward a similar idea.
Leung said the responsibility of determining a person's eligibility to stand in an election should not be left to a returning officer.
“There have been many occasions in the past when a person was allowed to join an election after signing a declaration form [promising to uphold the Basic law and pledging allegiance to the SAR]. However, after being elected into the district councils, they started advocating ‘Hong Kong independence’ or ‘self determination’. This situation is not ideal,” she said, adding that the loophole could be plugged if the screening work was carried out by an “eligibility vetting committee”.
Separately, Chan Wing-kee, a standing committee member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said there were calls during the seminar for local CPPCC and National People’s Congress delegates to take up a more proactive role in the governance of Hong Kong.
He told reporters that there’s a pressing need for electoral reforms in Hong Kong, saying the election committee that selects the chief executive should consist of more NPC and CPPCC members.
“The number of district councillors on the committee should be reduced. Another option is to remove the participation of district councillors altogether,” he said.
Under current arrangements, Hong Kong's leader is chosen by a 1,200-strong committee made up of members from business sectors, religious groups, and office holders such as Legco and NPC members, as well as district councillors.
Calls for electoral reforms have been rife since pan-democratic candidates won the 2019 district council polls by a landslide, with some in the pro-Beijing camp describing the outcome of the elections as “highly abnormal”.
Mainland officials and pro-establishment politicians have since highlighted the need for “patriots” to rule Hong Kong, and it’s widely expected that Beijing will submit plans to reform the SAR’s electoral system at the upcoming National People's Congress meetings.