“We have been fighting the seven-month pandemic since January. “This pandemic has dealt a severe blow to our economy,” she said. “Some people have said that if I do not postpone the election, they can take legal action … while others have said that if you postpone it, you have to explain clearly.”
Lam said he was referring to the Colonial-era Emergency Ordinance to call the election back from September 6 this year to September 5 next year, and her decision was fully supported by the central government.
According to the city’s mini-constitution, the basic law, each Legco term can last only four years, the CEO noted, and that would raise legal issues.
To resolve them, she submitted an extraordinary report to the Beijing State Council, informing her that the central government would ask China̵
This will mark the second time in a year that Lam has invoked such powers, first introduced nearly a century ago under British colonial rule. She used the law last October to ban masks from protesters who hid their identities during anti-government demonstrations.
Lam cited examples of other governments postponing elections, saying more than 60 countries have done so since July 15, and only 49 countries have continued with their planned elections.
“An emergency law has been passed in Britain to postpone the May election by a year,” she said, adding that the Australian election was also postponed by 12 months.
“If we continue with our elections, millions of voters will visit the polls on the same day. The risk of infection would be very high. “
Lam noted that despite preventive measures, new coronavirus infections in July had increased by 1,852 to a 140 percent jump over the first six months.
“We are particularly concerned about the situation in nursing homes… and there are no signs that the situation in the city is still improving,” she said. “The situation is most critical since January 2020, as the virus will continue to spread in the city and the risk of large-scale outbreaks in the community is increasing day by day.”
Regarding the logistical challenge in the midst of the public health crisis, Lam said the government would have to hire 34,000 election staff and large crowds would be on the streets on election day.
She noted that registered voters living across the border in mainland China would not be able to submit their ballots with quarantine measures to prevent travel.
Social distancing measures also made it difficult for candidates to continue their campaign, she added.
Her announcement came after a two-week nomination period for candidates ended at 5pm. A dozen opposition hopes were disqualified on Thursday.
The decision raises a number of legal issues, including whether council sessions can be extended and for how long, and whether those disqualified will still act as legislators.
In a statement issued earlier, 22 MEPs, including four who could not seek another term, said legislative elections were a key element in Hong Kong’s constitutional basis.
“According to the Legco ordinance, surveys can only be postponed for 14 days,” the statement said. “To postpone it [beyond that] is to provoke a constitutional crisis in the city. “
“After a year of democratic movement, it is urgent. It is easy to pass the baptism of public opinion, this is the basis of governing the city … The government and the whole society must make every effort to ensure that general elections can be held. according to plan. “
The official Xinhua news agency announced on Wednesday that the Standing Committee of the National Congress will meet again in Beijing from August 8th to 11th to discuss a series of laws. An issue related to Hong Kong is not yet on the agenda. The opposition also accused the government of trying to deprive residents of their right to vote.
“Hong Kong’s constitutional and legal framework would not allow this kind of manipulation,” the statement said. “It was also suggested that the National People’s Congress would intervene … this would mark the complete collapse of our constitutional order.”
The camp noted that more than 60 countries or regions around the world had successfully held elections during the pandemic, either on schedule or with a short delay. Authorities in Hong Kong need to learn from their examples, she said.
The postponement came a day after the opposition camp suffered a stunning blow from 12 members, including veterans and moderate politicians, as their candidacy was invalidated by returning officers, while the government warned more could be disqualified.
At least 22 other opposition hopes are still awaiting the return of officers’ sentences at their request.
In letters to candidates on Thursday, election officials cited the city’s new national security law and previous pandemocratic calls for foreign governments to sanction Beijing and Hong Kong as reasons for banning four incumbent MPs – Alvin Yong Ngoc-kiwu of the Civic Party, Dennis Kwok and Kwok Ka-ki, as well as the legislator of the accounting sector Kenneth Leng.
Other disqualified opposition figures included Joshua Wong Chi-mushroom, Ventus Lau Wing-hong, Gwyneth Ho-Qui-lam and Alvin Cheng Kam-moon, along with district councilors Chen Tat-Hong, Lester Shum, Tiffany Ewan Ka-wai and Fergus Leung. Fong -wai.
Returning officials cited similar reasons for their invalidity and earlier vow to vote on the government budget and other bills if the bloc wins an unprecedented majority in the legislature.
The government has warned that more candidates could face the same fate. But a source familiar with the matter said no further disqualifications would be announced on Friday. “But the returning services are authorized to do so after the nomination period ends on Friday,” the source said.
Additional reporting by Lillian Cheng