Candidates’ nationalities must be revealed before Chief Executive Election Committee vote: lawmaker

Published (HKT): 2021.04.20 06:00

The Hong Kong government should reveal the nationalities of candidates running for the Chief Executive Election Committee, pro-Beijing lawmaker Alice Mak said in the legislature on Monday.

LegCo is reviewing a massive bill to fundamentally change Hong Kong’s election system, prompted by Beijing’s recent decision to impose a strict vetting system and remove directly elected seats.

Since the legal amendments do not contain provisions about the nationality of candidates, Mak noted, the government should ask all candidates to make a declaration as to whether they possess a British National (Overseas) or other passports. Mak represents the Federation of Trade Unions.

In replying to Mak, the Permanent Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Roy Tang initially did not give a straight answer. But after he was pressed, he said he understood that candidates must fill in a form about their nationalities, which is not made public.

Mak insisted that the government should make the form public, and candidates with foreign nationalities should not be allowed to run. It would be worse if Hongkongers learned about candidates’ foreign nationalities through other channels, she added.

Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Secretary Erick Tsang said he understood Mak’s concerns and would look into the issue.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Paul Tse recalled the embarrassing episode when candidate Andrew Leung was found to have British citizenship, which he had to give up in an unseemly rush. Candidates’ nationalities should not be considered private information because that is an important consideration for voters, Tse said.

During the meeting, Tang mistakenly said that candidates for the Chief Executive Election Committee must have permanent residency in Hong Kong, when asked by a lawmaker if a qualified Japanese person could run. Tsang reminded Tang that permanent residency is not a requirement.

The Chief Executive Election Committee election will be held in September, with seats reserved for Hong Kong lawmakers, National People’s Congress delegates and members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference’s National Committee. That vote will precede the LegCo election in December, which has 40 seats reserved for members of the Chief Executive Election Committee.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok asked at the legislature meeting whether lawmakers who are also NPC or CPPCC National Committee members would lose their seats on the Chief Executive Election Committee if they do not run for the legislature in December, as they would not be able to step back into their seats on the national bodies. Ma is an NPC member.

Tang confirmed that this is the case, saying that the Hong Kong government had already communicated with the central authorities over the matter.

Ma asked if lawmakers wishing to keep their seats on the Chief Executive Election Committee would have to resign as lawmakers before the September race. Tsang said yes, this would be inevitable.

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