Democratic candidate Agnes Chow disqualified from Hong Kong election

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Pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow, 21, attends a rally in front of her portrait after she was banned from running in a by-election, in Hong Kong, China January 28, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Hong Kong’s electoral affairs commission has banned a 21-year-old pro-democracy activist from running in the upcoming by-election saying her running platform was contrary to the island’s “basic law.”

Agnes Chow was advocating “democratic self-determination”, as described in the notice from the chief officer of Hong Kong Island Geographical Constituency.

The decision was supported by the Government of HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region).

A press release from the HKSAR government stated: “The candidate cannot possibly comply with the requirements of the relevant electoral laws, since advocating or promoting ‘self-determination’ is contrary to the content of the declaration that the law requires a candidate to make to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR”.

The Basic Law, which was adopted on 4 April 1990, states that:

Article 2 
The National People’s Congress authorizes the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to exercise a high degree of autonomy and enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, in accordance with the provisions of this Law.

Article 5 
The socialist system and policies shall not be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years.

Without claiming independence, Chow and her party’s “self-determination” is in line with the General Principles of the Basic Law.

Chow, a citizen of Hong Kong who renounced her British citizenship, is the spokeswoman of the pro-democracy movement Demosistō and a former member of Scholarism, an organization of students who led the 2014 “Umbrella Revolution.”

Chow announced her candidacy via Facebook; her aim was to reclaim the seat formerly held by Nathan Law, ex-lawmaker and the current chairman of Demosistō.

Law was sentenced to eight months in prison (South China Morning Post) for his leading role in the Umbrella Revolution and is currently on bail. He is the youngest lawmaker of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.

On October 12 2016, Law and the five other elected members of the legislature took modified oaths. They either took long pauses, added words, or included statements before and after the oath. A court later held that the modifications disqualified them from serving (South China Morning Post).

“Many people were angry and disappointed over the … oath taking process,” said CY Leung, the chief executive of Hong Kong (Hong Kong Free Press). Their modified oaths were condemned by the HKSAR Goverment, and the 2018 by-election is the direct result of their insurgence.

Au Nok-hin is the backup candidate of the pro-democracy camp, and will now run instead of Chow. He will face challenges from Judy Chan, a member of pro-Beijing party New People’s Party, and Edward Yum, the former member of pro democracy group People Power.

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