Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Activist Agnes Chow indicates she may challenge decision to bar her from by-election

Pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow has indicated that she may file an election petition challenging an election officer’s decision to bar her from running in the by-election.

Chow was barred over her association with the party Demosisto, which supports self-determination for Hong Kong people. The election officer did not ask her any questions officially before she was barred.

However, Au Nok-hin – widely seen as her substitute candidate – won in the Sunday by-election. Should Chow win the petition, another by-election would have to be launched.

Agnes Chow

Agnes Chow. Photo: In-Media.

Asked on a Commercial Radio programme on Wednesday whether she would file a petition to overrule the result, Chow said: “The chance is high – we are inclined to do so.”

“The election petition is not only for me, but for people who wish to run in elections in the future,” she said. “Of course you can say Beijing has infinite power – if any situation comes up, it can issue an interpretation of the Basic Law. But I believe my case is important for future [candidates].”

Chow said she has started consulting lawyers, but she was uncertain how long it will take to come to a decision.

In pro-independence activist Andy Chan’s failed election petition, Court of First Instance judge Thomas Au ruled that a returning officer can examine matters beyond the formal compliance of the nomination form, and that candidates should be given a reasonable opportunity to respond to any concerns raised by returning officers.

Andy Chan Ho-tin

Andy Chan Ho-tin. Photo: In-Media.

However, Au also ruled that a returning officer should only conclude that candidates do not have an intention to uphold the Basic Law or pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region at the time of nomination if there is “cogent, clear and compelling evidence.”

The judgement for Andy Chan’s case was only issued last month – almost 18 months since he filed the challenge.

Asked to estimate how long a petition would take, Chow said: “It is difficult for me to estimate. Maybe the result will come after the next Legislative Council election [in 2020].”

Au Nok-hin said Chow’s disqualification was problematic since the election officer did not ask for a response before barring her.

Agnes Chow Au Nok-hin

Agnes Chow and Au Nok-hin. Photo: In-Media.

He said he agreed with Chow’s plan to file an election petition because his goal as a lawmaker was to fight for Hong Kong people’s political rights.

“I am happy to see justice being done,” he said, when asked about the petition’s potential effect on his seat.

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Activist Agnes Chow indicates she may challenge decision to bar her from by-election