Localist activist Edward Leung Tin-kei has agreed to sign the controversial new Basic Law confirmation form in hopes of being able to run in the Legislative Council election, after a court rejected an urgent request to challenge it. A “Plan B” is also in place should Leung ultimately be banned from running.
The legal attempt was one of two judicial reviews filed in response to a new requirement that asked election candidates to sign a declaration promising to uphold three specific provisions in the Basic Law related to China’s authority over Hong Kong.
Last week, the returning officer also sent an email asking whether Leung still supported Hong Kong independence after submitting his application to run for a seat in the New Territories East constituency. Leung, in a reply on Thursday, said the answer was a “resounding no.”
‘Inconsistent with my present stance’
Leung was supposed to submit his reply on Saturday, but he got approval to extend the deadline until Thursday. He gave a five page answer after seeking legal advice.
He distanced himself from past news clippings and social media posts collected by the returning officer suggesting he supported the cause, saying that they were “hearsay statements.”
He also closed his old Facebook page, which contained statements that were “inconsistent with my present stance,” and opened a new one.
“The regime does not want me to enter the Legislative Council – even if I have to crawl inside, through whatever means, I need to join it,” he told reporters on Thursday. “I must stand for election in September and win… and be a lawmaker.”
“I could be the first since Hong Kong’s establishment to be banned from running [due to political views], so I could stand on moral high ground and say that the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle has failed, but if I do that, it will be back to the starting point,” he said.
“Then I would not be able to enter the Legislative Council. So I ultimately decided that the end is more important than the means.”
After Leung submitted his answer, his group Hong Kong Indigenous launched an urgent campaign to collect nominations for “another organisation” to run in New Territories East.
The group did not say who was in the organisation, but volunteers collecting nominations told Stand News that Baggio Leung Chun-hang – convenor of localist party Youngspiration – might be the substitute candidate for Edward Leung.
Youngspiration said they will announce a new candidate for the New Territories East constituency on Friday afternoon.
Baggio Leung was nominated to be running in third place of his party’s list in New Territories West, whilst his party’s Wong Chun-kit was nominated for first place. He could withdraw his nomination and run in another constituency, if there are enough signatures for him.
On Thursday, Wong’s list and his party colleague Yau Wai-ching were confirmed for candidacy status by returning officers, after the candidacy of the Kowloon East Community group’s Chan Chak-to was validated on Wednesday.
The three belong to an electoral alliance that did not put independence into its policy, but they said they personally support Hong Kong independence.
The decision to confirm their candidacies raised questions as to whether the government was selectively banning some independence advocates from running.