Hong Kong govt. to probe pro-democracy primaries for security law breach


Hong Kong authorities are going to investigate whether the weekend’s primaries were in breach of the newly implemented security law on the city by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Chief executive Carrie Lam on Monday warned that “if this so-called primary election’s purpose is to resist every policy initiative of the Hong Kong government, then it may fall into the category of subverting state power, which is now one of the four types of offenses under the new national security law.”

Over the weekend, over 600,000 people showed up to select pro-democracy candidates in September’s Legislative Council (LegCo) elections.

Hong Kong’s Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB) said in a statement that the government had received complaints that the primaries “may have allegedly interfered with and manipulated” the elections and jeopardized the integrity of the electoral process.

Article 22 of China’s National Security Law for Hong Kong bans anyone from “seriously interfering in, disrupting or undermining the performance of duties and functions in accordance with the law by the body of central power of the People’s Republic of China or the body of power of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by force or threat of force or other unlawful means.”

“The government is now conducting an in-depth investigation and will seek legal advice if necessary,” a CMAB spokesman said in a statement on Monday.

“In case of any violation of the relevant laws and regulations, the Government will immediately refer the case to relevant law enforcement agencies for investigation and apprehension in accordance with the law,” it said.

The CMAB’s statement added that the government doesn’t recognize the “so-called primaries” as an approved part of the democratic process.

Some complaints also claimed that the people standing in line to vote had breached a current ban on large public gatherings.

The Communist Party-backed Ta Kung Pao newspaper chimed in with an editorial on Monday, likely indicating that the pressure to pursue the organizers of the primaries is coming straight from Beijing.

“The … primary election violated Articles 22 and 29 of the national security law’s provisions on subversion of state power, obstructing government departments and manipulating elections,” the paper said.

Organizers said 610,000 people turned out in Hong Kong over the weekend to vote in the primaries, despite warning notes struck by officials, a raid targeting the poll organizer’s office, and a new spike in coronavirus cases.

People lined up between socially distanced markers over both days at 250 polling stations in diverse locations across the city to cast their votes, which will help pro-democracy parties coordinate their election strategy in a bid to win a majority in the city’s Legislative Council (LegCo).

The high turnout came despite warnings from government officials that the primaries could be in breach of a draconian security law imposed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party on Hong Kong on June 30, bypassing LegCo and undermining the city’s promised freedoms of speech and association. (Source: RFA)