Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that the government currently has no plan to challenge pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu’s seat at the Legislative Council.
Chu was barred by the government from running in the village election for Yuen Kong San Tsuen, a village of around 100 constituents in Pat Heung, Yuen Long, on Sunday.
On Monday, pro-Beijing lawmakers suggested that Chu should also be barred from the Legislative Council, where he has a seat representing New Territories West.
In response, Lam told reporters that the Yuen Long district officer, acting as an electoral official, had made the decision to bar Chu on the basis of section 24 of the Rural Representative Election Ordinance.
Chu had previously argued that village representatives were in a different class from “high office holders” like lawmakers. According to Article 104 of the Basic Law, they do not have to pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, he said.
Lam said on Tuesday that it was a “substantial requirement” of the returning officer to make sure candidates would uphold the Basic Law pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, in accordance with the court judgements that had led to the disqualification of lawmakers.
“The Hong Kong government supports the returning officer’s decision. We believe he carefully exercised his power under the law and exercised his duties,” Lam said ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting.
“Mr Eddie Chu at the moment is a Legislative Council member. It’s not for me as the chief executive to say whether he is qualified as a Legislative Council member. In our daily dealings with Legislative Council members, we respect their status and we will continue to interact with them, responding to their questions, engaging them in panel discussions and so on,” Lam said.
“We currently have no plans to affect the status of a current Legislative Council member.” Lam added.
Lam said the government would look into amending the election laws following developments over the past two years. Namely, Beijing’s interpretation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, in 2016. The ruling stated that lawmakers must swear allegiance to Hong Kong as part of China. The ensuing court judgements led to the disqualification of several democrats from the legisalture.
“There is always a need to review existing legislation and arrangements to ensure that they can respond to the latest situations,” she said.
She added that there was no need to issue a set of guidelines for returning officers because they had to take into account the evidence and circumstances of each case. “These are not the [kind of] things that can be strictly and rigidly determined by guidelines.”