Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Joshua Wong, 18, seeks to challenge the lower age limit of 21 to run in elections

Scholarism convenor and activist Joshua Wong has filed a judicial review to challenge the lower age limit required for election candidates. Though the current lower limit is 21 years old, the student activist – who turns 19 on Tuesday – may run for the legislative elections next year should he win the case.

“The current Elections Ordinance blocks young people between the age of 18 to 20 from having equal rights in voting and being elected, which are listed under the Bill of Rights Ordinance and the Basic Law,” Wong wrote in a statement. “Therefore, I want to challenge the current system through judicial review, to urge more young people to fully participate in politics, to turn the tide on societal suppression and to widen the space for political participation for young people.”

Joshua Wong.

Joshua Wong. File Photo: HKFP.

Wong said that Hong Kong’s political scene was not healthy in that the average age of lawmakers is as high as 57. He added that, in many parts of the world, 18-year-olds can run in all kinds of elections, including China’s National People’s Congress.

‘Revolutionise the legislature’
Wong called pan-democratic lawmakers “collaborators” and said they are “faking” opposition and protesting ceremonially in an undemocratic legislature.

“Even if a representative democracy cannot completely solve the social problems we face, young people should not walk away and just stay on the streets.” Wong said that young people need to “revolutionise the legislature… to carry out more progressive parliamentary resistance, to fight for change inside the system.”

18-year-old can run in National People's Congress, but not LegCo.

18-year-olds can run in National People’s Congress, but not LegCo. Photo: Facebook/Joshua Wong

Before submitting the papers to court, Wong said that he would consider running for LegCo next year if he wins the judicial review.

“It is easy to be an opinion leader outside the system to protect your name,” he said, “We have to bring the issues that people care about into the political scene to make it mainstream.”

Currently, there are several requirements for a candidate to be able to run for a LegCo seat, including being 21 years old or above and registered to vote. Candidates must be ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for the three years immediately preceding the date of nomination, not have been convicted in the last five years of any offence sentenced to imprisonment for three months or more, and must be a Chinese citizen who is a permanent resident of Hong Kong with no right of abode in any country other than the People’s Republic of China.

Joshua Wong, 18, seeks to challenge the lower age limit of 21 to run in elections