Hong Kong Law & Crime Politics & Protest

Gov’t was unfair to ban pro-independence party leader from running for election, court told

Counsel for pro-independence advocate Andy Chan Ho-tin asked the High Court on Tuesday to overturn a decision by the electoral office to reject the politician’s candidacy in last year’s Legislative Council election.

Chan is represented by barristers Gladys Li, Azan Marwah and Randy Shek in the judicial review case. They argued that the Electoral Affairs Commission’s failure to provide reasons for its rejection constituted procedural unfairness, as Chan was unable to give a response to defend himself, RTHK reported.

Hong Kong National Party’s Andy Chan. Photo: Hong Kong National Party, via Facebook.

Chan, who intended to contest the New Territories West Constituency as leader of Hong Kong National Party last year, signed a confirmation form vowing to uphold the Basic Law as required by the electoral office.

Returning Officer Alan Lo Ying-ki later asked Chan if he would maintain his pro-independence position, which he believed Chan advocated based on news reports and other sources. Chan did not give a reply.

Chan then received a notice from the electoral office last July – two months before the election – saying that he was barred from standing as a candidate.

Hinderance to progress

Senior Counsel Gladys Li told the court Tuesday that the decision showed Lo had already made up his mind that Chan would not change his pro-independence position, even before obtaining a response.

She said promising to uphold the Basic Law did not mean agreeing with all of its provisions, because otherwise society would not see any progress. The lawyer argued that Chan’s proposal of amending the Basic Law did not go against his promise as stated in the confirmation form.

legislative council election

2016 LegCo election ad. Photo: GovHK.

She added that Lo should have based his decision only on objective criteria such as age and whether the applicant signed the confirmation form. It was not necessary for him to determine the authenticity of the signature using subjective factors such as the applicant’s past conduct and statements.

Lo’s decision gave the impression that the government either lacked a set of standardised criteria, or had vague standards in determining one’s candidacy, the court heard.

Lo is represented by the Department of Justice and Senior Counsel Benjamin Yu. The hearing continues on Wednesday and Thursday.

Correction 20:00: The previous version of the article erroneously stated that the hearing continues on Tuesday.

Gov't was unfair to ban pro-independence party leader from running for election, court told