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Gov’t gives village election hopeful 4-hour deadline to answer new questions on Hong Kong independence

Pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu has been hit with another round of questioning in his election bid for village representative in Yuen Long.

This was the second time in three days that Returning Officer Enoch Yuen – the government official overseeing the election – asked Chu to state his position on Hong Kong independence. Yuen said one of Chu’s previous answers was unclear, and gave him four hours on Wednesday to answer follow-up questions.

Eddie Chui Hoi-dick july 1 protest

Eddie Chui Hoi-dick. File photo: inmediahk.net.

Chu is running in an election to represent Yuen Kong San Tsuen, a village with 100 constituents. He submitted his application last Thursday and has since been listed as a “candidate” on the government website.

Chu received a letter from Yuen on Monday afternoon asking him whether he agreed Hong Kong was an inalienable part of China, whether he agreed that China had sovereignty over Hong Kong, whether he agreed to uphold the Basic Law, and whether he supported Hong Kong independence.

Yuen gave Chu until 4pm the next day to respond – a deadline of around 24 hours.

In his response submitted on Tuesday, Chu said he would uphold the Basic Law. As for the question on independence, Chu said he never supported it but believed that “peaceful advocacy of Hong Kong independence is a right protected under the Basic Law.”

“I advocate and support the democratisation of the Basic Law and the political system – including but not limited to amending Article 158 and 159 of the Basic Law – as a goal of Hong Kongers’ self-determination after the Central Government blocked universal suffrage,” he wrote, referring to the articles that establish the authority of the National People’s Congress over the Basic Law.

Chu also took issue with Yuen’s line of questioning, saying that its rationale was not in accordance with the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance.

“When the Returning Officer asked me whether Hong Kong independence is an ‘option’ for self-determination, the rationale is not only that I cannot advocate independence, it is that I must oppose others’ advocacy of independence – otherwise it would count as not upholding the Basic Law,” Chu added.

New questions

On Wednesday afternoon, Chu received a response from Yuen saying that Chu “did not directly answer the question” on Hong Kong independence.

Yuen posed two follow-up questions: “Do you, as a candidate for the village representative election, advocate or support Hong Kong independence as an option for self-determination? Do you, as a candidate for the village representative election, agree that Hong Kong independence cannot be advocated in any form?”

In a Facebook post, Chu said he received Yuen’s second letter at around 4 pm – and that he was given the deadline of 8 pm.

Chu had previously said the question-and-answer exercise was an abuse of the returning officer’s power and called it “ridiculous political censorship.”

He is one of the remaining self-determination activists who has yet to be challenged by the government in court. Other advocates for self-determination, namely Demosisto’s Nathan Law and Lau Siu-lai of Democracy Groundwork, have been disqualified as lawmakers. Lau and Demosisto’s Agnes Chow were barred from running in by-elections.

Lau Siu-lai

Lau Siu-lai. File photo: inmediahk.net.

HKFP has reached out to the government for comment.

Gov't gives village election hopeful 4-hour deadline to answer new questions on Hong Kong independence